Ormskirk went into the game as League leaders whilst Southport & Birkdale had the dubious pleasure of propping up the table. On paper it looked a certain win for Ormskirk but the predicted result was in doubt right up to the final overs.
Having won the toss S&B elected to bat and made a sound start with an opening stand of 31 which was broken by Nicky Caunce when he bowled Isaac Lea (9).
After losing the initial wicket the batsman bedded down until Simon Kerrigan stepped in to take the second wicket, that of Adam Philips (46). It was more than Simon deserved as he continually beat the bat but without that little bit of luck that is sometimes needed to take wickets.
Another twenty-one runs were added before Simon had Tearon Gleeson (10) well caught by Matt Glayzer and just two runs later the fourth wicket fell when Bradley Yates (0) had his stumps spectacularly uprooted by Scott Lees.
The score had reached 110-4 with Chris Brownlow still at the crease and he stayed there until the score reached 157 until he misjudged a ball from Simon and was expertly caught behind the stumps by Gary Knight.
At 171 Nick Knight (28) was trapped lbw to give Nicky Caunce his second wicket and just five runs later the S& B skipper Chris Firth (2) was bowled by Nicky.
The tea interval came after 55 overs had been bowled and so no further batting points were available to the home side.
It then became apparent that The S & B skipper had a game plan and that was to bat as many overs as possible to leave Ormskirk to take risks in a difficult run chase. In the event the declaration came at the end of the 70th over (yes the 70th!) with the score on 204-8. Simon Kerrigan had bowled a mammoth session of 30 overs to take 4-70, Nicky Caunce being the other principle wicket taker with 3-44 off 16 overs.
An examination of the score card showed that in the 70 overs only 3 extras had been given away, comprising of 1 wide and 2 no balls. Considering Gary Knight was standing up to Scott Lees and Nicky Caunce not a single bye got past him. It clearly illustrated what an excellent keeper he is.
It had been a tedious last ninety minutes for the spectators but S&B, who had been turned over twice this season by Ormskirk, had not capitulated at any stage. The scene had been set for Ormskirk to score 205 runs in approximately 40 overs, some thirty overs less than their opponents had to reach their total. It was a tall order and the batting fraternity had their money on the game ending in a draw.
Andy Baybutt and Michael Jones opened the reply for Ormskirk and put on 76 runs for the first wicket when Andy (43) in attempt to push the score along was caught in the deep off the bowling of Chris Firth. Josh Bohannon (6) was next out when he charged down the wicket in an attempt to hit the ball to the boundary only to be stumped in the attempt. A couple of runs later John Armstrong (1) did exactly the same as Josh and was duly stumped. The score was now on 83 -3 with Gary Knight having replaced John Armstrong. The chances of Ormskirk chasing down the runs for victory were rapidly declining and a draw became even more probable when Michael Jones (31) was caught with the score on 94-4, leaving Matt Glayzer to join Gary.
Matt stayed in for a creditable 19 runs while Gary’s mission was to ruin the S&B game plan by staying there and going for victory. After Alex Rankin (5) got out it was down to Simon Kerrigan to hold up one end while Gary went for the runs. They did what was asked of them. Gary made an undefeated 68 off fifty-nine balls while Simon (19*) was totally at ease supporting Gary in his assault on the bowlers.
With only two overs left the winning runs were hit and 24 league points were in the bag. S& B had put up a brave fight but, even with a calculated game plan, playing against a team that bats down to Number 7 needs something rather special and the plan fell short.
For his performance behind the stumps and his fine match winning innings the nomination for ‘Man of the Match’ was the easiest of decisions and went to Gary Knight.
The hard won victory leaves Ormskirk sitting at the top of the Premier League above their nearest rivals Northern by a margin of 54 points.