Royston skipper: Revival starts here

NEW Royston captain Matt Gillham believes his side can turn the corner and add some much needed stability to the club. Three successive relegations have seen The Crows plummet to the CCA Senior Division Two, where they will be hoping to bounce back from

NEW Royston captain Matt Gillham believes his side can turn the corner and add some much needed stability to the club.

Three successive relegations have seen The Crows plummet to the CCA Senior Division Two, where they will be hoping to bounce back from this season.

However, in their opening game Royston were beaten by three wickets on Saturday, with Wilbrahams edging to victory.

But captain Gillham, who has taken over from Craig Holson, remains confident for the season ahead.

The 22-year-old said: "It was obviously disappointing not to start the season off with a win, but we can take many positives from the game.

"We fought hard and right down to the wire.

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"Another 10-20 runs on the board and we would have been in with a great chance of winning."

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, it was not long before Gillham saw veteran Ken Graham falling for a duck, in what must have appeared to have been another one of those days for Royston.

Matthew Graham (40) and Richard Temple (33) added a second wicket stand of 77, as The Crows reached 83 from 30 overs.

The slow wicket made life difficult for the Royston batsmen, however with 15 overs left a competitive 160-run target looked to be on the cards.

Paul Miller (26) and Ashley Judge (18) injected the acceleration that was required, but once they were both dismissed the Royston innings fell apart and from 124 for 5, Gillham's side collapsed to 143 all out.

Needing an early breakthrough, Royston's opening bowlers were unfortunately dispatched as Wilbraham reached 46 for 0 off 10 overs.

The introduction of Alan Hootton did give the hosts a lift as Royston picked up wickets in each of his first two overs.

And when Temple bowled Danda for two, the visitors looked set to wobble.

However, Mathey and Tippin's half century stand later saw Wilbraham reach 100 runs before their next wicket fell.

When the impressive Mathey (51) eventually fell, it was all too late for Royston, as the visitors' tail did the rest, despite the best efforts of Hootton (4-35), Temple (2-21) and Gillham (1-22).

Team coach Richard Temple said: "I think it was a case of a missed opportunity really, because at one point we had the platform to make a difference.

"But just as we looked set, our trademark collapse that has become so common in recent seasons kicked in.

"We bowled inconsistently, dropped catches at key points, and, in the end, we just ran out of bowling options.

"We had a few players missing, so hopefully when they return we'll look a bit more solid with the ball and bat.

"Our aim is to get more of our players playing to their potential, and realistically having only won a handful of games in each of the last few seasons, I don't think we can look much beyond just finishing in the top half of the table.

"But the club does have a bright future, and no less than eight players under the age of 15 were in action for the first and second teams at the weekend.

"We can be confident that these talented youngsters will no doubt become the backbone of the club for many years to come."

The Crows host Cottenham on Saturday, a team that also suffered an opening day defeat, at Therfield, 1.30pm.

Gillham said: "With players coming back in for the Cottenham match, we'll be a lot stronger and I'm confident we can build on last week's performance and get 20 points.

"Relegation has been a real test for this club, and for the players, but there is a genuine belief within the team that we can turn things around - and hopefully that will start on Saturday."

ROYSTON seconds came agonisingly close to an opening day victory, but an erratic display with the bat proved costly as they went down against Wilbrahams seconds.

The Crows struggled against a variable bounce and occasional movement off the seam, with only Naveed Ahmad (39) imposing himself on the game.

Veteran opener Mick Miller (14) was the only other batsman to get into double figures.

And they would have fallen far shorter of their 140 all out had it not been for the 47 extras Wilbrahams conceded.

Royston's defence of their total got off to the best possible start though, with both Naveed and teenager Nick Hootton taking two quick wickets to reduce Wilbrahams to 22 for 4.

But young Wilbrahams brothers Matt (25) and Alex Morley (26) came together for a partnership that would prove decisive, resuscitating their side's reply, and building the foundation that allowed Gawthrop (40) to play a destructive if unconventional innings.

A dramatic final over from Naveed started with the scores tied, but two wickets set up a nerve-jangling finale.

The penultimate ball of the match found the outside edge, but the ball ran along the ground past the slips and Wilbrahams scampered the winning single.

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