BEAMINSTER 130 (11pts) lost to WEYMOUTH 131-9 (18pts) by one wicket
WEYMOUTH won an instant County Division Two classic at Beaminster by one wicket in an epic contest.
The Seasiders bowled well to dismiss the previously unbeaten Beaminster for 130 but were destined for defeat after a dismal batting display saw them slump to 76-9.
However, a miracle 55-run stand for the last wicket between Kieron Womble (42no) and debutant Rob Townley (23no) got Weymouth out of jail – the latter hitting the winning run via a dropped catch when the scores were tied.
Weymouth began this highly dramatic clash by winning the toss, fielding first and reducing Beaminster to 5-3 as Lloyd Beals bowled home skipper Chris Park (0).
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Will Moss (1) and Tom Fowler (0) were clean bowled by Johnny Armfield (4-30) playing ugly pull shots and Armfield also tempted Ross Baker to lift a catch to cover as the hosts slipped to 17-4.
Steadying the innings was Ben Golledge (45), who rescued Beaminster with an impressive knock on a wicket misbehaving off a length.
He was supported by Dan Hillier, whose 19 came off a gritty 58 balls, with the Seasiders dropping four tough chances in their 58-run partnership.
Hillier was eventually dismissed by a stunning catch from Dom Webb, who pouched the toughest chance of the innings.
Webb held on as a looping ball travelled over his shoulder to reward Townley, who bowled beautifully for his 1-19.
It ended a frustrating stand for the Seasiders, who were threatened with five penalty points after complaints over umpiring decisions.
Golledge then fell short of what would have been a deserved half-century, nicking Armfield behind to Womble.
Simon Jones (24no) then stroked an effortless six over deep cover to add late runs along with Adam Moss (12) but Neil Walton (2-18) returned with two late wickets to dismiss Beaminster for 130.
Weymouth's reply was under immediate pressure as the division’s joint-highest wicket-taker Nick Hollely made early inroads into the Seasiders’ top order.
He removed Harry Mitchell (0) and Walton (2) while Ollie Bareham (1-1) bowled an incredible eight maidens at the other end, tempting Webb (1) into slicing a catch to point.
Leg-spinner Bareham did not concede a run off the bat, only leaking a wide in the ninth and final over of an otherwise precise spell.
Womble and Jack Sapsworth (26) rebuilt but Weymouth’s progress was slow at 37-3 from 20 overs.
Baker (2-14) then bowled Sapsworth to leave Weymouth on 50-4 and the return of the outstanding Hollely looked like a match-winning decision from Park.
The left-arm swing bowler took three wickets in four balls, finding the outside edge of Armfield (4) before taking a good return catch off Beals (0) on the next ball.
Manoj Somaratne (0) survived the hat-trick ball but was castled next up as Weymouth crashed to 57-7.
Wickets continued to tumble as Beaminster edged closer to victory, Pete Sapsworth (6) and Neil Patel (0) perishing to leave Weymouth on the brink at 76-9.
However, the key moment in the game came as Townley was bowled by Simon Jones (1-39) for what would have been a golden duck, only for umpire Tony Quayle to signal a no-ball as Jones overstepped.
Townley’s reprieve enabled him to show the application missing throughout most of Weymouth’s innings, diligently blocking the straight balls and punishing anything loose.
His support allowed Womble to farm the strike and accumulate runs as the pair edged Weymouth back into the game by seeing off Beaminster’s senior bowlers.
As the tension increased to almost unbearable levels in the closing stages, Weymouth needed 24 from five overs.
But Mitchell’s men accelerated towards the winning line with Beaminster's best bowling options used up. It meant Park (0-9) was forced to bowl himself and Fowler (0-8) – a rare sight for Beaminster fans.
Weymouth were suddenly creeping closer to victory and Townley whipped a Fowler full toss to the square leg boundary to bring the scores level in a nailbiting conclusion.
And there was one final dramatic twist as Townley cut a short ball off Fowler to backward point, only for the chance to agonisingly go down and enable
Weymouth to scamper the single required for the most unlikely of wins.
Speaking to Echosport, Mitchell said: “First and foremost, that is the best game of cricket I’ve ever been involved in.
“The ups and downs were almost from ball one of Beaminster’s innings. The pitch was incredibly difficult to bat on, so credit to (Golledge).
“To get 130 was an above-par total. Our openers bowled good lengths and Johnny bowled exceptionally.
“Then the second half, just wow. We were losing that game for 36 overs. To claw it back, Sappy played a good knock and Kieron was outstanding having to grind away.
“That final partnership with Rob and Womble was something that only happens once in a few years. It was a special, special partnership.
“With the last wicket and a 50-plus partnership, it was different level – class.”
Weymouth Seconds remain unbeaten after beating Lytchett by 97 runs in County Division Six, thanks largely to a fine century from Tommy England.