DAVE Mather produced a sensational bowling performance as Farnworth Social Circle stormed into the semi-finals of the Thwaites Hamer Cup with a crushing 140-run derby victory over Farnworth on Sunday.
Mather followed up his five-wicket haul 24 hours earlier when Social Circle consolidated their position at the top of the league table taking eight wickets for just nine runs in 11 of the meanest overs as the holders were skittled out for 30.
Matt Parkinson’s side were looking to avenge their first defeat of the season at the hands of their local rivals a fortnight earlier.
But few could have predicted what was to follow after Circle were bowled out for a gettable 173 after being put in.
Tim Rees (43) and Tim Barrow (39) top scored in the face of some tidy bowling from Victor Walcott, who took 3-31 in 10 overs, but it was Adil Nisar who stole the show, taking a hat-trick with the last three balls of the innings.
Starting the over with figures of 0-14, he finished with 3-16 after having Christian Walsh caught in the outfield and Barrow caught behind before bowling Liam Bones with the last ball.
Farnworth headed for the pavilion with a spring in their step but 21 overs later the mood had changed dramatically.
Social Circle, who must now have their sights on a league and cup double, will be joined in the semi-finals by Horwich – who beat Greenmount in a nail-biter at the Recreation Ground – Little Lever – who beat Bradshaw comfortably at Victory Road – and Heaton, who won another tight contest at Kearsley.
The odds were on Greenmount booking their place in the last four as opener Phil Ingram spearheaded the reply to Horwich’s total of 182-8 in a tie reduced to 40 overs by mutual consent.
Ingram was the last wicket to fall with Greenmount on 173-9, leaving Stephen Ashworth and Mark Stewart at the crease. But, needing 10 off the final over, they managed seven, leaving Horwich to celebrate a two-run win.
Home professional Babar Naeem (87) and Pete Halliday (33) laid the foundation for the win – Ryan Senior’s 4-48 the pick of the Greenmount bowling figures. But Horwich’s bowlers crucially carried on the good work with Adam Street (4-34), Naeem (3-45) and Andy Taylor (2-28) helping keep the visitors in check.
Alex Jones was the Heaton hero when he hit a six to clinch a thrilling victory at Kearsley.
Coming in at nine with the game in the balance – Kearsley having posted 202-8 in their 50 overs – Heaton were running out of overs and wickets, having lost Imran Mirza, who was run out for 95. That was when Jones decided to go for broke and on the second ball of the final over he cleared the ropes to give Heaton a two-run victory.
Openers Joe McCann (61) and Charlie Dorsey (50) had earlier given Kearsley a solid start with a 119-run first-wicket partnership.
League champions Little Lever had the upper hand from start to finish as they enjoyed a 143-run victory over Bradshaw in a tie that at one stage looked like running into a second day as the light deteriorated.
Home professional Kamran Younis (65), Simon Anderton (52) and Dane Hargreaves (36) scored steadily as Little Lever set a total of 243 in 48.3 overs to justify their decision to bat first, pro Saeed Anwar (5-95) the pick of the Bradshaw bowlers.
But, following a break for rain, the visiting batsmen looked far less comfortable.
Bradley Yates (31) and Nick Lester (26no) made a fist of it, but in the face of impressive bowling from Danny Robinson (5-51) and Raqeeb Mahmood (3-15) they were bowled out for 100 in 32 overs.