A memorable weekend of cricket saw Chorley recover from a heartbreaking last ball league defeat by Leyland on Saturday to cruise into the National Knockout regional final a day later at Darwen.
And every credit should go to Andy Holdsworth’s side for picking themselves up to win at Birch Hall after that agonising reverse in a classic, hard fought derby in front of a bumper Windsor Park crowd.
It had been nip and tuck throughout a sunlit Saturday afternoon, but as the evening shadows lengthened, the contest went down to the final delivery with Leyland skipper Dave Makinson facing and knowing he needed six for victory.
Incredibly, the seasoned ex-Lancashire man managed to heave the ball straight over bowler Billy Smith’s head, and it evaded the waiting fielders by inches as it crashed into the sightscreen for an unbelievable maximum.
There were wild celebrations from the visiting players who invaded the pitch in delight, and the desperately unlucky Smith slumped to the turf in despair as a stunned silence descended on the home faithful.
The consolation was that Chorley had played their part in one of the finest games seen at Windsor Park for many years.
The home side had started steadily but then a mid-innings stutter threatened to destroy the good work until Kieran McCullagh charged to the rescue with a wonderful half-century of crisp, controlled hitting which lifted his side to a respectable 176 for 9.
And that total looked even more daunting as the home attack ripped into Leyland, whose hopes were carried singlehandedly by overseas amateur Alex Ross.
Make no mistake, this guy is the real deal.
The fresh faced Aussie may be only 22 and looks even younger, but Ross played a superb innings as with wickets tumbling at the other end, he crafted a magnificent and perfectly paced century which carried his side to the brink of victory.
For a moment, it seemed to be all in vain as he was marooned at the other end for that final delivery, but his skipper saw it through, and the points were Leyland’s.
Yet if you thought that would knock the stuffing out of Chorley as they prepared to go to unbeaten Darwen on Sunday, you would have been mistaken as they picked themselves up to chalk up a convincing win.
Darwen had made a steady start and at 85 for 4 looked set for a decent total, but a brilliant spell from Will Moulton, who finished with figures of 5 for 5, blew away the tail as the Towers collapsed to 98 all out.
And there were few problems for the visitors as they knocked off the runs for the loss of just one wicket, Holdsworth completing the win with a six as the clock having only just passed 4.30pm. The victory not only completed a fine weekend’s cricket, but also set up an intriguing group final at St Annes, who saw off Leyland at Fox Lane to earn their last 32 spot.