Despite posting their highest score of the season so far Lightcliffe U13s A went down by 19 runs at Spen Victoria.
Although Joshua Booth, with two early wickets in consecutive balls, gave Lightcliffe hope of getting through the top order, Spen recovered through a mixture of big shots to the short square boundaries and positive if sometimes erratic running between the wickets.
Lightcliffe were not at their best, either in the field or with the ball, and were unable to stem the steady flow of runs or pick up a further wicket as Spen closed on 129 for 2.
The exceptions to this were Declan Raistrick, whose fielding continued to excel,and Matthew Booth, who bowled two tidy overs in his first game back
In reply, Joshua Booth and Paul Eliot got Lightcliffe off to a steady start and aided by a number of extras put on 45 before Booth (14) was undone in unfortunate circumstances, by the combination of a well flighted delivery and a low setting sun.
Four more wickets fell quickly, with spinner Wahab Mohammed having the excellent figures of four for fopur in three overs.
Just as Spen felt they could relax, however, Owen Thomas hit out to retire not out 30, with six boundaries supported again by Andreas Macintosh, 12. The two added a quick fire 43 to leave Lightcliffe needing 26 from the last two overs.
Unfortunately both McIntosh and Reece Smith, both selflessly playing for the team, perished going for the big hits Lightcliffe needed. Overall, a score of 110 for 7 represented a very positive display with the bat and a feeling perhaps of what might have been.
If the measure of progress is the quality of both cricket played and the opposition, then Lightcliffe’s young U17s are definitely heading in the right direction.
While they will be disappointed to narrowly lose out in a contest which held the attention until the last over, they can hold their heads up as their opponents knew they had been in a real scrap.
On a hard and even batting track, Great Horton’s opening bowlers were aggressive and generally skilful with line, length and change of pace.
Try as they might, no batsman thrived - as a top score of 13 by opener Patrick Wild showed.
Nevertheless, Lightcliffe made the best of tight fielding in grinding out a total of sorts.
An eighth wicket stand of 20 by Daanyaal Ahmed (8) and Jordan Pickles (11) helped notch up 77.
With brothers Irsalaan and Daanyaal Ahmed opening, this outlook was justified as the visitors lost three wickets for 20, albeit that their tempo was high.
The first ball from off-spinner Rhys Thomas to Church’s captain Shah went straight down the throat of a missing deep mid-wicket and it looked like their opponents might cut loose.
A gem of a delivery from Liam Collins dispatched their danger-man courtesy of yet another stumping to Regan Broadbent’s tally this season.
Thomas, Jake Broadbent and Pickles all took wickets as the run rate diminished, maidens were bowled and the tension grew. Church were reduced to 58-7 and requiring a run per ball.
Tight fielding maintained the tension, but when number nine Ahmedi hit a couple of beefy cross-batted boundaries, the balance of the game teetered.
When Daanyaal Ahmed took his third and Lightcliffe’s eighth, it was too close to call.
Ahmedi’s last over boundary sealed it for the visitors to end Lightcliffe’s unbeaten start to the season.