Connahs Quay 154 all out
Denbigh 103/ 8
It was a case of so near yet so far for Denbigh as their promotion hopes were dashed at the final hurdle in this winner takes all clash. Knowing that nothing less than a 9-1 points victory would do for promotion and with the Quay needing just 3 points to guarantee promotion there was definitely the feeling that each run and wicket would be vital.
Damp weather before the game left the pitch looking a touch green and unpredictable so home skipper Stuart Moulden had no hesitation in asking the visitors to bat first on winning the toss. The Quay are formidable opponents howver and Denbigh found it incredibly difficult to make the all important breakthrough and struggled perhaps to take advantage of the conditions, gifting too many balls that were despatched to the boundary. Whenever wickets have been needed this season however Moulden has turned to slow bowler Daniel Nixon who has developed a fantastic knack of breaking partnerships and he was straight into the action again here dismissing Popplewell for 44 stumped by Joe Lewis. Dafydd Lewis was the next to strike taking a caught and bowled chance to remove Luke Bennett. The dangerous Kevin Jones was looking in good form before he fell victim to another of Nixon’s patented brand of bowling, bowled for 10. At this point Denbigh scented the possibility of a middle order collapse as wickets were falling regularly. Stuart Moulden pulled off a fantastic return catch and then followed this up by bowling Richard Smith first ball, he was unable to claim the hat trick but Denbigh were now into the tail. Unfortunately for the home team they found themselves up against a man in form in the shape of Jonathan Evans, his 31 allowed Connahs Quay to make it to 154. Denbigh did however manage to restrict the batsmen and Chris Brown in particular deserves praise for his final over in which he took 4 wickets to finish the innings.
Knowing that to reach Division 2 they could lose just 2 wickets in their chase, Denbigh were facing adversity immediately as they were deprived of the services of regular opener Lee Mason thanks to a hand injury sustained as he attempted a sharp catch while fielding. Stuart Moulden shuffled his pack and asked Daf Lewis to open the innings with Daniel Nixon. Needing a big performance though Denbigh quickly found themselves in trouble, Nixon the victim of a highly disputed decision to be given out caught behind when general consensus was that the ball had knicked his pad on the way through. Dafydd Lewis managed to find the boundary twice before he mistimed a shot and was well caught leaving Denbigh needing more than 130 without losing any further wickets. The unfortunate player to be next man out was David Roberts as he could only inside edge the ball onto his stumps out for a duck as Connahs Quay celebrated conformation of their promotion. This allowed the Denbigh batsmen to bat with more freedom although Andy Clarke and Joe Lewis took a different tack looking to frustrate the visitors with their batting. Lewis played resolutely to claim 29 runs from 38 overs and while eyeing a not out he fell in the last over. Others however took a different approach and Craig Stubbs was the highlight smashing 24 off 23 balls in yet another entertaining innings.
So as the season closes Denbigh found themselves just short of promotion in a highly encouraging and successful season. Their late season run took them to the brink but they look back ruefully to the dropped points elsewhere that ultimately cost them. Another season however that has seen the emergence of even more junior players capable of holding their own in the senior ranks. Jack Griffiths has emerged as a genuine opening bowler who is also a capable lower order batsman. Sam Lewis has also found his feet as an opening bowler and fine fielder, while Andy Clarke took important wickets and batted well in the middle order.
Next season promises much for Stuart Moulden’s charges.