Francis hails fantastic Gidea Park & Romford win
- Credit: TGSPHOTO
Captain delighted to beat Belhus
Gidea Park & Romford captain Jamal Francis paid tribute to his side after a fine win at Essex League Division Two rivals Belhus.
The home side, sitting in third place in the table and harbouring hopes of promotion, posted a challenging total of 280-8 at North Stifford, but Park kept their nerve in their run chase.
After half centuries from skipper Francis and Alan Croft, plus late cameos from Connor Donnelly and James Pegram, saw Park clinch a one-wicket victory with two balls to spare.
Francis said: “It was a good match, but at times we thought it was getting away from us.
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“We lost wickets at bad times, but our middle and lower order played well.”
Belhus captain Danny Joyce and brother Joe have scored freely at the top of the order this season and put on an 87-run stand against Park, before falling in successive overs to Sam Hewitt (2-35).
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And Francis knew they were key wickets, adding: “We know they get the core of their runs every well, but if you can get them out you can keep their total down.
“Sam getting them in two overs turned the game on its head. They can be destructive at the top of the order, but we controlled the game a bit more and could set fields.
“We had a period on top in the middle overs, but we let it slip a bit and they started to move the ball into areas.
“We rotated our medium pacers to restrict the runs a bit and thought we’d keep them to 230 or 240.
“They got to 280 but the outfield was quick all day. It’s a flat track and a big park, one of the best pitches around.”
George Rogers (2-27) also nabbed a brace for Park, who began their reply after tea in confident mood, but were soon 40-2.
And Francis had to play a captain’s innings to keep them on track.
His 57 came off 75 balls, with seven fours, and Croft kept up the momentum with 59 off 56 deliveries, including two sixes and five fours.
Francis added: “We knew if we kept wickets in hand for as long as possible we would have a chance.
“We lost a couple of quick ones, but got off to a decent start. I needed to stay there and build partnerships and get us closer.
“Crofty and Connor batted sensibly and knocked it around when they had to, but everyone was chewing their nails a bit.
“We’ve struggled to get runs on the board down the order. We had confidence but it was a question of could we carry it out.”
Tailender Pegram proved up to the task, though, and struck 14 off nine balls, including two boundaries and the winning runs off Gary Sanderson.
Francis said: “James is a good hitter of a ball and a good all-rounder. We’ve got quite a lot of batsmen in our team.
“He wouldn’t be a number nine normally, but he got a wide half volley and hit it through extra cover. It was a tense end to the game, but a good end for us.”