Thrilling finish for county side

First published in Sport

HEREFORDSHIRE missed out by just one wicket in opening their Unicorns championship season with a resounding victory against the reigning champions.

Cheshire needed to survive the last two balls with two wickets in hand.

"Off the last but one bull, their player did us a favour by shouldering arms against Mike O'Shea and getting bowled," said Herefordshire chairman of selectors Ernie Morgan.

"Then there was a big appeal for a stumping off the last ball but it was given not out.

"However, considering the amount of time that we lost - we didn't play until 4-30pm on Monday and then had two interruptions on the last day - I think that we would have walked it had we played the full game."

Herefordshire made a good start after winning the toss on the first morning with Liam Gwynne (40) and Nitesh Patel (56) posting 70 for the first wicket.

Gwynne, whose innings was peppered with boundaries - eight fours and a six accounting for 38 of his runs - was the first to go and was quickly followed by Mike O'Shea, given out lbw, but with an apparent inside-edge, for a duck.

But Patel continued solidly on his way to his half-century, which included 10 boundaries before his 134-ball innings came to an end.

Ben Stebbings (53) contributed his eighth championship half-century with all the remaining middle-order batsmen chipping in - skipper Dave Exall (13), David Ball (14) and Nick Powell (12) taking the score to 220-7.

Wicket-keeper Luke Padgett (36) shored up one end for 98 balls while Callum Stewart raced to his first Herefordshire half-century, 52 from 79 balls which included four fours and a six.

The Brockhampton paceman was the last man out, after Jamie McIlroy had joined in the fun with an unbeaten 14 as he shared in a last-wicket stand of 21.

"It was an excellent stand between Padgett and Stewart," said Morgan. "Callum has never come anywhere near a 50 before.

The Herefordshire innings was spread over two days with play not able to start until late on Monday afternoon following heavy morning rain.

And then, when they were dismissed, the Herefordshire bowlers quickly got among the opposition.

"Dan Conway bowled really well at the start and got a couple of wickets so they ended the day four down," said Morgan.

"Then in the morning session on the last day, we took nine wickets.

"Mike O'Shea, who is really a batsmen who bowls reasonably well, took 5-47 - if we had had a specialist spinner, I'm not sure how many they would have made.

"Then Stewart polished off the tail and then Jamie McIlroy took a couple of quick wickets at the start of the second innings.

"He was quite sharp and we had them 8-3 at lunch."

Interruptions during the final two sessions reduced Herefordshire's chances but they kept on chipping away and brought about the final, exciting conclusion.

Much of the praise, however, was reserved for hosts Colwall.

"They did a fantastic job to keep the game going," said Morgan.

"They were even commended by the Cheshire skipper in his report who said what a good cricket wicket it was - good for batting and reponsive to the bowlers."

The sides now meet again on Sunday in the Unicorns Trophy at Boughton Park.

"While no two games are ever the same, psychologically we've not done ourselves any harm in this game," said Morgan.

Brad Wadlan will replace the unavailable Nitesh Patel while Charlie Walker comes in for Nick Powell.

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