Cricket: Grange win takes title race to wire

Grange celebrate after John Blain (bowler) takes Aberdeenshire's James Musgrave. Pic: Toby Williams
Grange celebrate after John Blain (bowler) takes Aberdeenshire's James Musgrave. Pic: Toby Williams
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MAZARS GRANGE’S vice-captain Ryan Flannigan was pleased to score a century on Saturday, but he was even happier that his side’s win kept the CSL Eastern Premiership title race going until the final round of fixtures.

The Capital side went into their home clash with Aberdeenshire knowing that they needed a victory to keep the pressure up on leaders Arbroath.

As it happened, both the top two won their matches – Flannigan’s 100 easing Grange home and Arbroath battling past Autoecosse Forfarshire – so it means that the destination of the trophy will not be decided until this coming weekend. On Saturday Grange are due to take on Heriot’s in Stockbridge, while Arbroath will be across the city facing in-form Watsonians.

Arbroath know a win will see them top the table for the first time since 2013, but if they slip up, Grange are ready to pounce.

And just to add to the excitement, this coming Sunday the two teams clash in the Scottish Cup final in Stirling, meaning it really is all to play for.

After helping his side to win by eight wickets against Aberdeenshire, Flannigan said: “We knew that we had to go out there and put in a dominant performance to keep the title race going and I thought we did that against decent opponents.

“The bowlers really did a great job for us to start with. I though Raj [Routray] and John [Blain] made it hard for their batsmen to get settled at the crease and they had to work hard for any runs. Gordon Goudie and then the spinners continued that good work and although Chris Venske batted pretty well and got 75 for them, he did not take the match away from us.

“Chasing 188 to win and with our usual openers missing, I knew I had to step up to the mark with the bat and myself and Nick [Farrar] put on a good opening partnership.

“Myself and Neil [McCallum] then carried things on and, due to his experience, he is always good to bat with. It was nice to get to 100, but the main thing was the win for the team.

“Now we have to refocus on the big weekend ahead. We still have the chance to win two trophies and that is really exciting. We know the league is in Arbroath’s hands, but we can only worry about ourselves.”

Against Aberdeenshire, captain Andrew Brock led the way with three wickets before Flannigan’s batting heroics.

Carlton maintained their grip on third spot and they defeated Falkland in quick time at Grange Loan.

They skittled their visitors for just 62 and then Hamish Gardiner made 39 not out as they won by nine wickets.

Watsonians made it five league wins in a row, a superb 131 not out from skipper Ewan Chalmers helping them to post 305-4 batting first against Stoneywood-Dyce at Myreside.

The visitors were then bowled out for just 60, ‘Sonians spinners doing the damage.

Steve Knox returned from injury and a couple of outings in the second XI – with 60 not out as Heriot’s defeated RH Corstorphine by nine wickets.

In the Baillie Gifford ESCA Championship, Murrayfield DAFS defeated Holy Cross by three wickets, but they still look set to be relegated to East One.

James Blackmur took five wickets to help defeat Edinburgh and boost Marchmont’s own survival hopes at Cavalry Park while there were wins for SMRH and Carlton II also.

• GRANCE ace George Munsey made his county debut for Northants down south against the touring Australians at the weekend, making 27 in his side’s first innings.