BRILLIANT Darwen claimed their first win of the Northern Premier League season on Saturday as they roared into life to thump reigning champions St Annes at Birch Hall.
The Towers had just a winning draw and a losing draw to their names from the first two weekends and faced the challenge of a visit from St Annes to test their resolve.
But John Cordingley’s men were brilliant from the off to claim the win in style.
Darwen won the toss and invited St Annes to bat and the locals made the prize breakthrough with the score on one as former Pakistan Test batsman Atiq uz-Zaman – who scored a brilliant ton at Birch Hall last year and who has started 2012 in style – nicked Neil Cordingley through to Alex Davies without troubling the scorers.
And when skipper Andy Kellett and then Charles Boucher fell in quick succession, it was 18-3 from 10 overs.
Kushan Mirando was next to go with the score on 23 and when Nathan Bolus went for five it was 30-5 from 16 overs and very much advantage to Darwen.
Duncan Whalley (32) and Neil Bradley (13) held up the Towers to a degree and they took the score to 52 before the latter was bowled by new Darwen pro Shaun De Kock and it became a procession after that as the champions were rolled for just 79 in 38.4 overs.
De Kock claimed 3-30 on debut but the real bowling star was Neil Cordingley who returned 4-20 from 10 overs.
Chasing such a low score can often prove tougher than you would expect but Davies was in no mood to hang about as he finished unbeaten on 40 as the Towers roared home.
Danny Fradd (21) was the only casualty as the game was wrapped up by 5pm.
But while there were celebrations for Darwen, Chorley’s first week batting nightmare returned as they were well beaten by Barrow at Windsor Park.
Andy Holdsworth’s men were on the back foot from the off after the Cumbrians put them in and the skipper and fellow opener Adam Peacock both departed for ducks.
Stuart Naden (15) and Will Moulton (18) tried to redress the balance but the only other score of any real note on a bad day with the bat was another 18 from Iain Critchley as Darryl Wearing claimed 5-22 from 17 overs. Gary Collins (3-17) and South African sub pro Travis Townend (2-30) were the other wicket-takers as Chorley slipped to 69 all out in 38.3 overs.
Billy Smith gave the locals hope by removing Liam Livingstone for two but Jonathan Miles (33) and Ryan Brown (26) put Barrow in complete command before Moulton claimed their wickets.
Kieran McCullagh ripped out both Townsend and Sam Dutton - but Barrow got home with 27 overs left.