CITY United players chaired young batsman Michael Bellamy off No.1 Oval on Saturday night after he smashed the winning runs in a nail-biter against Old Boys in the Tamworth first grade.
The rest of the City players were on the edge of their seats in the pavillion as Bellamy and number 11 Aaron Dennis chalked off each run, but went berserk when Bellamy belted a boundary to win the game by a single wicket.
After rain on Friday night, the match started late and became a day-nighter but the wicket was still a sticky one and it provided a low-scoring but exciting contest.
Old Boys batted first and despite the top order making starts the innings honours went to the City bowlers.
Dennis was the pick of them with 3-15 from eight overs but Simon Toyer also made the most of the opportunity with 4-10 at the end.
Simon Norvill top-scored with 21 at the top of the list while fellow top four bats Chaise Crough (12) and Luke Fox (14) and last man out Dave Heyman (14) were the others to reach double
The other highlight of the innings was a brilliant catch by Toyer off Dennis at backward point to remove the dangerous Aaron Hazlewood.
“Jack McVey bowled well at the start and Aaron Dennis bowled a good spell in the middle and nipped a few out,” City skipper Dan Whale said.
“Then Simon Toyer came on for a few and got the tail out.”
Chasing a small total, City could smell a third win for the season, but started the chase badly.
Will Howard was almost unplayable early in his spell and sent three batsmen packing to have City 4-18.
Hazlewood (1-18) took the other scalp.
Daniel Lawrence decided the best approach against the tricky movement off the pitch was to go after the bowling and he hit 31 off 28 balls before coming unstuck when Norvill brought himself into the attack.
The wickets continued to fall but the runs required were also reduced and when Bellamy joined Richie O’Halloran the pair put on a careful but crucial 18 for the seventh wicket.
Norvill struck twice in two balls to leave City 8-73 and this time it was captain Whale who added 18 with Bellamy for the ninth wicket before he departed with the score on 95.
That brought Dennis to the crease but the number 11 defended well and allowed Bellamy to score the runs.
The right-hander got the score to within two runs of victory and then struck a lofted off drive to the fence to secure the win and take his own score to 31 not out from 62 balls.
“Good batting from our lower order got us home in the end,” Whale said.
“There were a couple of good partnerships and Dan Lawrence came in in the middle and got us out of a hole.
“Then Michael Bellamy batted really well.
“It was what you needed to do, be patient and work hard.
“You couldn’t go at the ball hard.
“Both sides bowled well.
“We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game after the rain we had but going into it we just wanted to bat time and bat our overs out.
“We knew that 99 per cent of the time that you’ll get 102 runs if you bat 40 overs, even if you’re batting a bit scratchily.”
Norvill finished with 4-16 and Howard 4-35 but it was a hard loss to take for Old Boys.
Co-captains Norvill and Ben Middlebrook agreed the batting total was just too low in the end.
“We didn’t score enough runs,” Middlebrook said.
“We needed another 20 or 30.”
But they also agreed that City bowled well, especially right-armer Dennis.
City is still fifth in the premiership but has closed the gap on West Tamworth and made the job even harder for last-placed Old Boys.
“We needed that win to stay close to West and also to stay ahead of Old Boys,” Whale said.
“We would have been last if we’d lost.
“But things are going well.
“It’s a long time since City’s had three wins before Christmas.”