Fox Lodge staring into the abyss

Ballymena's William Montgomery is bowled by Waringstown's Alan Harrison 'Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Ballymena's William Montgomery is bowled by Waringstown's Alan Harrison 'Picture by Brian Little/Presseye

Fox Lodge’s decade-long stay in the top flight of North West cricket is surely all but over.

Saturday’s defeat to Donemana was their ninth consecutive league defeat and they remain six points adrift of Ardmore in seventh place.

With just five games remaining, they require at least three victories just to draw them level with Ardmore, though the Bleachgreen team look to have more wins in them.

Jason Milligan, the Fox Lodge captain, put the cup winners in to bat and Gareth Heywood claimed four early wickets as Gary McClintock, Kamran Sajid, William McClintock (8) and Tom Riddles (26) fell. Milligan removed his opposite number Richard Kee to leave Donemana 66 for five and when Ricky-Lee Dougherty followed it was a perilous 96 for six.

But just as it looked as if the visitors were going to be rolled over, Warriors skipper Andy McBrine and his dad, Junior launched a stirring fightback. Andy moved to his 50 from 66 balls and with Junior playing the anchor role at the other end the 21-year old pressed the accelerator in the closing overs.

The Ireland international brought up his century soon after, his second 50 taking just 22 balls. Junior did his bit too as he finished on 42 not out but the real fireworks came from Andy who struck 11 fours and five sixes in 112 not out. The father and son partnership was worth an unbroken 142 in the end as Donemana closed on 238 for six from their 50 overs.

The Foxies’ reply started well with a half century stand between Milligan and Iftikhar Hussain but after reaching 94 for one, they collapsed to 109 for five in a spell of play that summed up their season.

Jonny Heywood struck a defiant 30 but Fox Lodge were finally dismissed for 153. William McBrine claimed three for 36 and there were two wickets apiece for Andy, McBrine, Junior and Jordan McGonigle.

Eglinton pulled away from the danger zone with a comprehensive win over Bready as Stuart Thompson and Stephen Smyth smashed brilliant centuries.

Thompson crashed 14 fours and six sixes on his way to a fantastic 127 and shared in a 185-run stand with Smyth who found his best form of the season. The former Ireland man reached his ton off the last ball of the innings having hit a six to go to 99 off the penultimate ball. He also struck seven fours as Eglinton piled up 287 for five.

Bready needed something special from David Rankin but when the opener went cheaply they gradually fell behind the asking rate.

Ernest Kemm made a half-century and Darren Moore (43), Robert Spence (24) and Craig Young (20) made decent contributions but with Stephen McCloskey claiming three for 28, Bready slumped to 223 all out.

The win draws Eglinton level on eight points with Bready, with the Magheramason side contenders for the seventh-placed play-off.