No respite in Seasiders’ relegation battle

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SATURDAY’S visit to Grimsby provided no respite for Skegness in their increasingly desperate fight against relegation from the Lincolnshire ECB league.

In a performance bearing parallels with the previous week’s batting collapse from a position of relative early innings composure, a meagre tally of two points confirmed the side’s third from bottom spot, eighteen points adrift of the joint fourth from bottom Hartsholme and Market Deeping.

The away fixture at Woodhall Spa on August 27, who currently lie fourteen points below them, now assumes crucial end of season, make or break importance in the fight to avoid the dreaded relegation spot with Nettleham seemingly already condemned to the drop.

On Saturday, despite losing the toss and being invited to bat first, on a real Grimsby green top, the early order had negotiated the worst of conditions to reach 101-2 at the half way stage.

After a rare Peter Houghton failure, Norman Brackley and Wade McCall doggedly took the score to 75 before the Skegness Zimbabwean opener became Grimsby’s South African offspinner, George Linde’s first victim, caught behind for 32.

McCall and Carl Wilson took the total to three figures before the latter also fell to a catch behind the wicket, this time off seamer Lee Charlton, for whom these were ideal conditions.

From a position of 101-2 in the 28th over when Wilson departed, the remainder of the Skegness innings had the life suffocated out of it by a combination of the relentlessly nagging accuracy of the offspinner and seam bowler respectively.

With the scoreboard grinding to a halt Skegness collapsed. They lost their last eight wickets for just 36 runs in 18 overs, having apologetically limped on to 137.

McCall’s vigil of 86 balls for a battling 37, was ended with a skyer, a dismissal seemingly replicated several times over whenever a batsman attempted to break clear of the shackles.

The only real note of defiance was struck by Mark Chamberlain coming in at No. 10 who manfully survived 38 balls for an undefeated knock of 17.

The game was up however when his last wicket partner, Steve Kirkham, became Linde’s final victim, leaving the South African with the highly impressive figures of 6 for 29 off 15.4 overs.

McCall’s earlier dismissal of Grimsby skipper Richard Antcliffe for just seven, gave early grounds for optimism. A second wicket counter-attacking stand of 90 in just 16 overs between John Morgan and number three Neil Snell, sounded a rapid death knell for faltering Skegness hopes.

The consolation of a solitary bowling point – to put alongside the single batting point earlier in the proceedings – was little to write home about as Grimsby cruised to a seven wickets victory by the 26th over, when their total reached 141-3.

Nor was there to be any uplifting of club spirits as the first team returned home to Richmond Drive to witness the closing stages of the Second XI’s game against Thomas Cook.

Set to chase a visiting target of 170, built almost entirely around opener Vidit Matta’s 101, the seasiders fell tantalisingly two runs short after an exciting late innings flourish as the overs eventually ran out.

A maiden half century for Marcello Santini (57) was the highlight for the home side.

This Saturday sees the first XI at home to Boston while the second team travel to play Billingborough second XI.