UNDER pressure Paul Carroll kept his cool to see Accrington edge to a thrilling one-run Worsley Cup quarter final victory over neighbours Enfield at Thorneyholme Road.
Carroll bowled a dot ball off the very last delivery to leave Enfield stranded on 202-8, replying to 203-8, as the home side booked a semi final trip to Burnley on 29 June.
It was the second successive week that the hosts had edged the derby clash, following their three-run victory in the Lancashire League. And no-one was more relieved with the win than skipper David Ormerod, after he leaked 14 runs off the 49th over to spoil otherwise tight figures of 3-32.
Ormerod said: "I was really pleased for Paul because he’s new to the club and there’s been a few people doubting him, but he’s proved them wrong.
"But the result could easily have swung the other way. I felt for David (Bracewell) and his players because they put up such a good fight and it made for excellent entertainment."
In a topsy turvy game the visitors had looked well set in their chase at 133-2 thanks to a quickfire 38 from Adam Bracewell and a stand of 83 between opener Mashooq Ahmed (47) and pro Brandon Hiini (39), before subsiding to 170-8, only to produce a stirring late onslaught.
And after a nervous start which saw them tottering at 12-3 with both openers castling themselves off helmet and bat, Accrington were heavily indebted to their middle order - with Graeme Sneddon (31), Toby Bulcock (32), Graham Lloyd (33), and Simon Hanson (34 not out) steering them to a defendable total. Hiini (3-27) and Keith Barker (2-25) were again the pick of an Enfield attack which crucially conceded 16 wides - 10 more than their opponents.
"The total was probably a fraction on the low side considering the pro can only bowl limited overs but I was happy at half time," said the skipper, who himself added 14 priceless runs from number 10 in an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 37 with Hanson.
He added: "The most pleasing part was that if we have got off to a bad start in the past we have collapsed.
"The wides made a big difference and it was something else we talked about at the start of the game. Bowlers who aren’t bowling regularly will not have that tight line and length."
On current form Burnley, who beat Lowerhouse to join Accrington, Todmorden, and Haslingden in the semi final draw, might prove easier opposition than Enfield, but Ormerod is expecting a tight game.
He said: "The cup is something the club hasn’t won for 22 years so to get through to the semi final and give ourselves a chance of winning it is great. Burnley are a much changed team with a new pro and captain.
"They’ve got a competitive side and they always fight hard, so it won’t be easy, but we will back ourselves to win. Teams come to Accrington now knowing they’re going to get a game whereas in the past it’s been a case of ‘thankyou very much for the 12 points.’"
Rain wiped out Sunday’s entire league programme, so Accrington remain second, just three points behind leaders Nelson. Tonight (Friday) they host Rishton in the 20/20 league, while Enfield travel to East Lancashire.
In the first 20/20 round last Friday Rishton beat Enfield, but were docked a point for slow over rate, while Church fell to East Lancs.
Back in the league on Sunday Accrington face yet another local derby when they travel to Church, Rishton make the trip to East Lancs and Enfield host Todmorden.