Rasen steel themselves for relegation dogfight

An unbeaten 40 from wicketkeeper Liam Scales helped Rasen First XI to a draw against Lindum EMN-150831-100025002
An unbeaten 40 from wicketkeeper Liam Scales helped Rasen First XI to a draw against Lindum EMN-150831-100025002

Market Rasen First XI face an anxious finale to the Lincs ECB Premier season after Saturday’s results left them just one point above the relegation zone.

While Rasen were involved in a losing draw in their penultimate home game against Lindum, second-bottom Grimsby enjoyed a surprise home win against Skegness to reduce the gap.

Winning the toss and fielding first, Matt Rutherford’s side made an inauspicious start as Lindum’s openers attacked the new ball.

Lindum reached 61-0 and dominated the opening 10 overs before Fussey replaced the returning Gary Bierlein in the attack and bowled Charles Tomlinson for 28. Bierlein bowled Geoff Middleton for 18, but the visitors continued to score quickly and by the drinks break had reached 125-2.

Lindum’s run rate began to fall as the spin pairing of Rutherford and Bierlein restricted scoring chances. An unusually poor fielding display let Lindum off the hook several times and allowed William Wright to reach his century off 137 balls.

Rutherford removed Robinson and Hornsby, but they were the last wickets to fall. A cameo spell from Ian Williams should have brought Rasen two wickets, but catches were dropped in the final few overs, denying Rasen more bowling bonus points.

Lindum finished on 253-4 from their 50 overs, leaving Rasen with a gettable target.

Knowing points were vital to their ECB survival, Rasen began their attack in the worst possible manner.

Bradford fell first on 10, quickly followed by Papworth (7) before Charlie Scales (4) was caught as Rasen teetered on 27-3.

But a gritty fourth wicket stand of 92 between Williams and Rutherford brought Rasen back into the game.

Rutherford scored a measured 42 from 91 balls, and will have felt disappointed not to turn this into a bigger score. But the partnership established a platform for the middle order batsmen to attack.

Williams lost his own wicket to the bowling of Tom Lindsay at 121-5, finishing with 31 from 77 balls, having allowed Rasen to build an innings around him.

A quick appearance from Christie was followed by the returning Paul Martin, and he and the in-form Liam Scales (40 not out) took Rasen to within striking distance of the target.

Scoring at a run-a-ball in the final 10 overs, Rasen moved through the final bonus points of the game and reached 202-6 by the end of the 50th over.

Scoring 20 runs for their first three wickets and then 182 for the next three shows the potential strength of batting in Rasen’s middle order.

* Rasen travel to second-placed Sleaford on Saturday before welcoming Skegness CC to Rase Park on the final day of the season.