CONNAH’S QUAY 205-7
ST ASAPH 201-8
(Connah’s Q won 23-11)
SPIRITED St Asaph have done enough to preserve their Premier Division status for another season.
The Saints faced their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday as they had to travel to champions-elect Connah’s Quay.
Initially, things did look pretty comfortable for St Asaph in their relegation battle, as they went into the match boasting a 15-point advantage over second-from-bottom Hawarden Park.
However, Hawarden Park claimed an unlikely 20-point haul from their tense one-wicket win at Bangor, which meant that St Asaph had to claim at least six points at Connah’s Quay to stave off the threat of relegation.
The St Asaph players were up to the task, though, led by a fine batting performance that saw the visitors declare on an imposing 201-8 after 50 overs.
Opener Richard Aram led from the front with his excellent knock of 66 and plenty of support arrived later on in proceedings, from skipper Dave North (35), Rob Hooper (32 not out), Gareth Jones (25) and Joe Lunn (13).
For Connah’s Quay, David Powell (3-31) and Ryan Holloway (2-33) were the main wicket-grabbers.
The home side knew that a win would be enough to hand them the title, but the Saints quickly took control with ball in hand.
Wickets from North (2-36), Andrew Bellis (2-56) and Paul Fleming (2-55) made the visitors favourites for an unlikely win, until a large seventh wicket partnership swung things back in Quay’s direction.
Shane Carlton (67) and Ryan Holloway (50 not out) effectively saved the day for Connah’s Quay and although Gareth Jones (1-16) eventually broke the partnership, the home side edged through to a winning 205-7 with just one over to spare.
Despite the outcome, St Asaph’s display merited a vital 11 points, which was enough to see them finish outside the relegation positions.
It was Hawarden Park who went down, despite the fact they edged to a thrilling one-wicket triumph at Bangor.
In a match reduced by the rain, Bangor reached 132-5 declared batting first, but Hawarden looked set to coast to an easy win when their reply got to 81-0.
However, a major collapse saw them lose nine wickets for just 50 runs and Hawarden Park squeezed through to 133-9 with only four balls left.