IN one of the most dramatic finishes at Windsor Park for many years, Chorley sent a bumper crowd wild in the Sunday evening sun as they edged into the quarter-finals of the Royal London ECB National Knockout thanks to a win over Bowdon.
A desperately hard fought roller coaster of a game had looked to be going the way of the visitors as the home side lost their eight wicket when they were still 22 short of their victory target.
But Billy Smith and the seasoned Rex Purnell nudged them closer and brought the target down to eight from the last over.
After the first two balls produced just a single, Smith smashed a boundary towards the scoreboard to put Chorley within three of victory, then nicked a one to make it two off two balls needed.
Finally, in an amazing twist, the pair scrambled a bye and then Smith threw his bat and gloves skywards in delight.
For a split second, the crowd were silent, perhaps thinking he had somehow miscalculated and there was still one run needed, but then the realisation dawned that a wide had been called and the home side were home and dry.
A massive roar rose up into the evening sky as it sunk in that Chorley booked a quarter-final tie on August 3 at Windsor Park.
Their opponents will be the winners of the York v Chesterfield clash, which fell victim to the weather yesterday, and how the home side deserved that reward after a tremendous contest which was played in a great spirit. And nobody deserved it more than skipper Andy Holdsworth.
Out of form with the bat, he showed tremendous guts to grind out a half-century which kept his side in the game and laid the platform for that incredible win.
But his colleagues also deserve praise for the way they stuck to their task throughout a glorious afternoon.
After reducing Bowdon to 22-3 on pitch which dried out well after overnight rain, they continued to apply the brakes and it took a gritty 50 from Jack Tipton to hoist the visitors towards there figures.
A late flurry ensured the Cheshire County League outfit reached a respectable 160-6, but that looked gettable as the home side made a steady start to their reply.
However, Chorley then slumped to 51-4, pro Mohammed Jamal’s rash shot seeing him caught on the boundary for two, and with Ian Dickinson, David Fisher and Jack Catterall also gone, Bowdon were slight favourites.
But Holdsworth led from the front to keep Chorley in it, and then came that incredible finale to see them home.
And the win was all the more creditable as Holdworth’s side had to recover from a league mauling at Blackpool the previous day.
The home side racked up a monster 252 for 6 and in reply, Chorley slumped to 41 for 9.
A rain interruption and a defiant late 31 from Smith merely delayed the inevitable and they were all out for 87.