Ferguslie juggernaut back in gear
William Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
THE Ferguslie juggernaut clicked back into gear at Meikleriggs on Saturday as the league leaders took another step towards the Western Premier title with an eight-wicket win over Stirling.
Beaten in a Scottish Cup semi-final thriller at Grange six days earlier, the Paisley side shrugged-off that disappointment in convincing fashion as Stirling’s four-game winning run was brought to an end.
It was another test successfully negotiated for the champions-elect and skipper Jamey Carruthers admitted: “It was important for us to get back on track in what was a big game.
“Stirling had won four in a row but we were phenomenal in all aspects.”
Carruthers himself set the tone with three early wickets as the visitors were reduced to 24-2 before an excellent century stand between Brandon McMullan (73) and Tom Bradburn (45) stalled Ferguslie.
However, Michael English removed both batsmen en-route to his own three-wicket haul and, with Hamza Tahir chipping in with two, Stirling were eventually all out for 191.
English and Elliot Moses put the chase firmly on course with a sparkling second wicket stand that yielded 122 runs before the former was out for 69.
However, Moses finished unbeaten on 73 as the leaders surged to victory.
Title success would set up a likely return meeting with Eastern Premier leaders Grange in the Grand Final in September and Carruthers acknowledged: “I’m sure that could happen but we’ll concentrate on winning the league first and take care of anything else after that.”
At the other end of the table Greenock and Ayr boosted their survival hopes with victories at Prestwick and West of Scotland.
Having restricted Prestwick to 196-7, Greenock’s re-jigged batting order carved-out a six-wicket win, Chris Hempsey taking advantage of the chance to open by top-scoring with 60.
The Glenpark side have moved out of the relegation places but a club spokesman said: “It was an outstanding knock from Chris and a great win but we’ll need a few more to ensure we stay in the Premier League.”
Meanwhile, Ayr came back from the dead to move off the foot of the table with an astonishing recovery at Hamilton Crescent.
Defending just 181, defeat looked inevitable when West reached 140-2 but a flurry of wickets – three each for Scott McElnea and Anwar Hafeez - saw the hosts all out for 169.
Dumfries drop back to the bottom after their 112-run defeat at Clydesdale while Uddingston are up to third after Poloc, chasing a modest 173, collapsed from 132-2 to 168 all out at Bothwell Castle.