Match Report - Kidsgrove 1st Team v Burslem 1st Team.
By Andrew Birkin
Kidsgrove and Burslem captains satisfied with displays in draw.
Kidsgrove captain Rich Hagan and Burslem counterpart Chris Lowndes both drew comfort from how their sides fared in Saturday's stalemate.
Three rain delays scuppered any real hopes of a positive result at Clough Hall Road, but both teams could point to missed opportunities throughout the course of the afternoon.
Kidsgrove had stuttered to 65-5 at one point, but managed to recover to 183-9 before Hagan opted to declare.
That left Burslem with 29 overs to try to overhaul their hosts, and at 48-0 they appeared to be manoeuvring themselves into a position to make a good fist of the chase.
However, they slipped to 52-4 and then 81-6 to ensure that their focus switched to saving the game.
They did this with few alarms and closed on 100-6 to earn some reward to back up their opening-day victory over Betley.
For Kidsgrove, who won Division Two last season, it was another encouraging display after they beat Audley in their first game.
"I'm happy with the outcome, especially against Burslem, who will be challenging to go back up to the Premier Division," said Hagan.
"The rain breaks made it hard for the boys to settle in our innings, but from the position we were in, it showed that we have a strong batting line-up.
"When we had them six down I thought that we had an opportunity to do something, but overall I'm happy with how we played. We've proved that we can compete at this level."
Tom Coppenhall's 50, plus 42 from Tom Lench rescued the Kidsgrove innings, as they looked to negate the threat posed by left-arm spinner Michael Brown, who picked up 6-65.
Seamer Ben Haslegrave claimed two wickets during a workmanlike 20-over stint.
Kevin Mountford (28) and Sam Waterhouse (22) provided a solid platform in the run chase, but Lench's four wickets, plus a couple for Asif Ahmed Khan, forced Burslem to produce a rearguard action.
That was comfortable achieved as Lowndes and Brown showed their experience to steady the ship.
"I said to the lads between innings that winning the game was our aim and at 48-0 it was on," said Lowndes.
"But we lost four wickets quickly and from that point it as always going to be a tough ask for us.
"You can't afford to lose wickets in clumps like we did, so we needed to make sure we dug in."
Lowndes, though, cut a satisfied figure as he looked back on the opening two weeks of the season.
Burslem are still awaiting the arrival of their overseas player, Pakistan left-arm seamer Sadaf Hussain, who has taken 247 first-class wickets in his homeland.
"It might have been a missed opportunity when we had Kidsgrove five-down and having Sadaf here might have made a difference," added Lowndes.
"But Ben has bowled superbly. To get through that amount of work at the age of 20 was exceptional, and Browny just did his thing from the other end.
"We obviously wanted the victory, but without the pro here, we've got to be happy with a win and a draw from the first two games."
Coppenhall's clean striking, plus Lench;'s more watchful approach during a sixth-wicket stand of 79 helped to dig Kidsgrove out of a hole in between the rain delays.
And with the ball, they put the pressure on Burslem's batting line-up as their fine start to the reply went to waste.
Hagan added: "The two Toms played really well and gave us a bit of momentum.
"You have to give credit to Chris, though, he came in when his side were six wickets down and he dug in.
"I've said before that teams have to come and beat us.
"We're not just here to make up the numbers; we're here to compete and I think that was evident."