Armagh Cricket Club Firsts made it four wins out of six in the NCU Gardiner Brothers League Section 1 with victory away to Lurgan on Saturday
Skipper Matthew Steenson opted bowl first on a soft track which should improve through the day so won the toss and elected to bowl.
Harry Doyle and Ben Mackey opened the bowling with the latter first to strike in unusual fashion as he dismissed Harrison who edged the ball onto his foot and caught by tumbling wicketkeeper Gareth McCarter.
This brought Lurgan’s danger man Dandekar to the crease but his partner Grieve was run out as they looked to run a quick single, Jamie Rogers was quick to react and threw the ball to Mackey who calmly took the bails off.
Three balls later and Mackey claimed his next victim of the home captain Johnston who was bowled with an in-swinging delivery.
At the other end Harry Doyle was bowling decent lines and giving away few runs and piling the pressure on the batsmen.
In Mackey’s third over he struck again clean bowling Clarke.
Lurgan were 14-4 and Armagh were clearly on top however to their credit Dandekar and Maxwell began to build a partnership, which passed 80 and as professional Dandekar reached his 50, captain Steenson introduced himself to the attack with instant success as he got Maxwell caught behind thanks to a sharp catch from McCarter.
After their brilliant start Armagh had slipped back a little and Steenson looked to get the team going again. Next came Gibson to the crease and after surviving an early chance he looked to smash the ball around and made a brisk 37 before Neil Gelston dismissed him as he skied one to mid off into the hands of Mackey.
As the impressive Dandekar reached 88 club legend David Bullick dismissed him as he looked to clear the boundary over mid-wicket only to be caught by Jarred Barnes with a superb diving catch.
This really swung things in the visitors favour as Lurgans final three batsmen were dismissed quickly with Gelston getting an easy caught and bowled off Ali and and an lbw against Lyness who was out for a golden duck before Bullick claimed the final wicket of McCollum as he looked to go over mid-off only to find himself push the ball into the hands of Doyle who took another excellent catch.
Lurgan were all out for 163 and Armagh knew that if they batted sensibly they should achieve this total and see it home on an improving track.
Neil Gelston and Jamie Rogers opened the batting for the Armagh team looking to start well in pursuit of the total but this wasn’t to be as the latter pulled a soft catch to square leg with the score on only 7.
Gelston was joined by Colin Russell with a necessity to stabilise the innings in the face of some hostile Lurgan bowling.
The two experienced players were able to use their class to take the sting out of the attack and build their partnership steadily.
Lurgan were growing impatient on what had turned into a glorious afternoon at Pollock Park and the Armagh pair were able to exploit the flaws in bowling and fielding.
Gelston was doing the bulk of the scoring and brought up his half century with a delightful six straight down the ground.
The partnership passed the century mark which was a fine effort from both men and looked like they would take it to the end before a tired Gelston was eventually caught at mid-off by Ali when attempting to smash it over his head.
The Armagh opener fell 13 runs short of what would have been a deserved century.
No let-up was available for the home team though as the visiting skipper Steenson strode to the crease with intent to get the job done and he looked in strong form, striking the expensive Lyness for a massive six onto the roof of the clubhouse.
The winning target was attained when a free hit was stroked almost to the boundary with Russell finishing with an excellent 42 not out to follow up last week’s half century as Armagh recorded consecutive wins.
Armagh captain Matthew Steenson was satisfied with the teams efforts after another good win.
“We started off brilliantly with Ben Mackey on fire but after that we were perhaps a little complacent and let Lurgan back into it,” said Steenson.
“I asked the team at the second drinks for a big effort and we delivered that which is something to be proud of.
“With the bat it was great to see Neil Gelston and Colin Russell putting on such a great partnership and the only shame is that they couldn’t see us all the way to the win.”
A busy week lies ahead for Armagh as they host Cliftonville in the quarter final of the T20 Trophy on the Mall on Wednesday at 6pm before hosting high-flying Holywood on the Mall on Saturday.
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