Arbroath re-ignite title bid as Heriot's fall just short

WHO said it was all over? Just as it was shaping like an inexorable Heriot's procession to the DivisionOne title when up step mercurial Arbroath United to offer renewed hope to the challenging pack with a thrilling four-run win at Goldenacre.

Yet earlier it had appeared all but over for the Lichties as three wickets apiece from seamers Ally Edington and Andre van Niekerk had bundled out the Lochlands Park men in under 30 overs for a meagre 101, which might even have been significantly less but for a valiant unbeaten 36 from Calvin Burnett after his side had slumped to 48 for 6.

Then came the remarkable fightback, led once again from the front by irrepressible Benny McGill. The burly seamer grabbed his customary early scalp, trapping Chris Goddard leg before for just one, before removing Gavin McIntyre, Sean Weereratna and returning skipper Steve Knox, his devastating ten-over spell eliciting four wickets for a miserly 18 runs. Meanwhile, at the other end Euan Small was doing his bit too, accounting for opener Matthew Thomas and danger man Adam Lockhart-Krause.

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A brief rally led by Edington and top scorer Ged Case (17) left Heriot's needing just seven runs with two wickets intact, but firstly Van Niekerk's lusty blow found the safe hands of Calvin Burnett, and then, in a nail-biting climax, Paul McCraw, aiming for the winning boundary hit, holed out to Mark Edwards to spark frenzied scenes of Arbroath jubilation.

Drumpellier took full advantage of the Heriot's lapse, comfortably disposing of faltering Poloc at Langloan. Another impressive innings by Carl Huyser (58 not out) assisted by Craig Young (31) and some late-order hits from skipper Matty Coyle (32) enabled the Shawholm men to post 194 all out, after being 110 for 8. A commanding captain's knock from Graeme McLaren (67no), assisted by the Mohammed brothers, Asif (58no) and Zaheed (37) saw Drumpellier ease home with seven wickets and four overs left. Spinner Keith Sheridan returned a fine 2 for 26 for Poloc whom, worryingly, this was a fourth successive reverse.

Another side in alarming free fall are recent league leaders Stirling County, whose third successive defeat, by 91 runs at Ayr, now leaves their challenge floundering in sixth slot. A second successive century by pro Michael Papps (115), who moved close to the 600-run mark with only half the season gone, was the cornerstone of a massive 267 all out by the Alloway men. In reply a fighting knock from James Miller, who carried his bat for 69, was simply not enough as his colleagues perished principally before wily veteran spinner Dougie Johnstone's four for 24.

Burgeoning Stoneywood-Dyce made it five in a row, convincingly disposing of Falklands at People's Park. A splendid unbeaten partnership between Jan Stander (53no) and Stuart Coetzer (43no) propelled the Aberdeenshire side home by seven wickets with 17 overs to spare. Earlier, three wickets apiece from skipper George Ninan and Michael Leask had reduced the Fifers to 124 all out. And, it was joy for Penicuik at the ninth attempt with a 20-run home win over second-bottom Stenhousemuir.