Match Report - Audley 1st XI v Burslem 1st XI - 31/08/2013
By Andrew Birkin
Burslem clinch key victory in relegation battle.
Chris Lowndes says Burslem are not out of the woods despite winning their key relegation clash against Audley.
Their three-wicket victory pushed Burslem 31 points clear of Audley, who sit second-from-bottom and are teetering on the verge of the drop.
However, despite extending the lead over their closest rivals, Lowndes isn't taking survival for granted with two matches remaining.
A home date with relegated Elworth and a visit to Checkley wind up Burslem's season as they bid to retain their top-flight status.
"It was a bit tense towards the end, and the nerves of the occasion got to both teams, but it worked out for us," said Lowndes.
"The players were pretty euphoric, but we know that there is still work to do.
"Being 31 points clear of the relegation zone is a good cushion to have, but we've seen strange results in the final few games of a season before.
"Elworth have been relegated, but that might make them dangerous and be able to play freely.
"They've already beaten us this summer, so we're not taking anything for granted."
Taking the pace off the ball was the game plan for both sides at Kent Hills.
Burslem left-arm spinner Michael Brown wheeled away unchanged to take 5-60 as Audley were dismissed for 135.
Seamer Josh Pieters played his part with 3-21, while Dean Bedson (45) and Mustafa Bashir (30no) led the way with the bat for Audley.
An easy run chase was soon on the cards for Burslem as Steven Lowndes (34) and Kevin Mountford (24) added 58 for the first wicket.
But young spinner Tom Perkin claimed six wickets to instigate the visitors' collapse to 89-6.
However, Pieters (23) and Brown (18no) joined forces for the second time in the afternoon to shut the door on Audley's hopes of a much-needed victory.
"There was nothing wrong with the wicket, but it was difficult to get the ball away once the pace was taken off," added skipper Lowndes.
"At 58-0 you think that we're going to get over the line pretty comfortably, but we have a habit of making life hard for ourselves at Burslem.
"Quite why we do it I'm not sure, but there were a few nerves flying around."
Audley's predicament is looking increasingly precarious as they prepare for next weekend's trip to Whitmore.
Andrew Johnson's side then complete their campaign by entertaining title-chasing Stone on the final day.
Johnson is refusing to give up hope on his side's survival, but admits relegation would not be the end of the world.
"It was a disappointing day and we put a couple of catches down which didn't help our cause," he said.
"We managed to build pressure on them, which we are capable of.
"The situation isn't great for us, but you never know what might happen in the final two matches.
"We've got to try to bat first in both games and pick up 50 points. That's all we can do and see where it takes us.
"I don't think it would be the worst thing if we were relegated. It would give us a chance to address a few issues and re-assess where we are.
"It would breed confidence if we won a few matches in the lower division rather than be battling relegation."