Watsonians weather the storm to stay at the top

Oliver Brown faces Jamie King as Watsonians were bowled out for 124, but fought back to skittle Stoneywood-Dyce for 60. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Oliver Brown faces Jamie King as Watsonians were bowled out for 124, but fought back to skittle Stoneywood-Dyce for 60. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Watsonians survived a huge scare against basement boys Stoneywood-Dyce to retain their place at the top of the Eastern Premier division.

The Myreside men were shot out for just 124 only to fight back in the field to dismiss the Aberdonians for 60.

And Shaun Coetzer, the vanquished Stoneywood skipper, believes the capital troops could go on to land their second title in four years – providing their key players stay in form.

Once again Scotland batsman Ewan Chalmers spearheaded his side’s innings before former New Zealand seam bowler Andy McKay was in devastating form with the ball. Coetzer, whose side remain winless, said: “If Andy McKay bowls like that for the rest of the season then I don’t see why they can’t be champions. But they will need other bowlers to support him and they also seem to rely a lot on Ewan Chalmers to score the bulk of their runs, but they are top on merit.”

Having been given the chance to bowl first, Stoneywood made the most of helpful conditions to make life tough for the leaders. Indeed, Watsonians looked in all sorts of trouble when they slumped to 43-4, Matthew Brown claiming all four in a devastating opening spell. However, skipper Chalmers made 46 in a 67-run stand for the fifth wicket partnership with his brother Andrew (29) as Sonians rallied.

However, another collapse rekindled the visitors’ hopes as the hosts lost their last six wickets for just 14 runs, Jamie King claiming 3-8 at the death.

If Stoneywood hoped for a stroll to the target they quickly had other ideas as Watsonians’ seam attack got down to business. McKay struck to remove Coetzer, whose fellow opener Brayden Stepien fell to Ali Sadler for a duck. The visitors were soon in disarray on 28-6 as McKay claimed 3-10, figures later matched by the South African Martin Versfeld. Youngster Ewan Davidson was the only batsman to reach double figures with 11, while 19 extras was the biggest contribution to Stoneyood’s final tally of 60.

Skipper Coetzer admitted it was a missed opportunity for his side, saying: “We were pretty confident at the halfway stage. We knew the key would be seeing off Andy McKay which unfortunately we couldn’t do.”

Elsewhere, Craig Wallace showed his growing prowess as an international class batsman with a superb innings of 176no as Forfarshire maintained their challenge by overpowering Falkland at Forthill. He batted throughout the innings as Forfarshire posted 327-3 – just six short of their own best team total of the campaign. Wallace even outshone hard-hitting former Saltires skipper Ryan Watson who reached 48 while Rory Johnston added a rapid 45.

In reply Falkland’s entire team mustered two runs fewer than Wallace had managed on his own, Umair Mohammed taking 3-12.

Grange produced a stirring fightback to rekindle their fading hopes of a successful title defence and perhaps end Arbroath’s dream of a late surge to glory.

Batting first at Portgower Place, the champions recovered from 69-7, Calvin Burnett claiming four wickets, to make 205 thanks to Harris Aslam’s half-century. Aslam then claimed three Arbroath scalps, though was upstaged by his captain Andrew Brock who had 4-23 as Grange cruised to a 65-run win.

At Goldenacre Heriot’s secured a six-wicket win over Aberdeenshire, though the Edinburgh side’s success owed much to former Dons’ stars Adrian Neill and Hayes van der Berg, the former taking four wickets before the latter hit an unbeaten 46.

Elsewhere, the match between Glenrothes and Carlton was abandoned without a ball bowled.