GARY Morrison celebrated his first game as new St Helens Recs skipper with a thrilling three-wicket win at fancied Sefton in the Liverpool Competition Penketh's Trophy.

He can thank a match-winning knock of 70 not out from new boy David Tole and a fine spell of 2-18 from Gary Freeman in an impressive team performance from the Ruskin side.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, Sefton lost the wicket of Baird with the total on five as he was bowled by left arm spinner Freeman. Whilst 18 years old Paul Ford also opened the Recs' bowling, and marked his debut with a tidy spell, David Heyes and Richie Bann moved the score on to 44 before Freeman claimed his second victim, removing Heyes for 22 and finishing with figures of 2-18.

There followed a passage of play dominated by the bat as Bann and Chaminda both scored freely and added 82, the home side moving their total to 126-3. All-rounder Mike Tarran gave his usual whole hearted performance with the ball and with the help of Mark Jenkins pegged Sefton back, Jenkins impressing all with a polished and mature performance, underlining his development into a fine seam bowler.

The introduction of Stephen Garvey brought about the downfall of both Bann and Chaminda as he has Bann caught behind for 55 and Chaminda leg before for 41 reducing Sefton to 135-4. Phil Disley and Lawrence Wilson continued the good work however, and in a partnership of 70 Disley scored 44 not out and Wilson 28 not out as the Sefton innings closed on 205-4.

Recs started poorly in reply, and lost opener Ian Huyton with only 15 on the board. Fellow opener Terry Keane followed shortly afterwards for 10, leaving Recs on 17-2.

Steve Martindale looked to be in little trouble, playing some excellent strokes and, together with Recs' overseas player Paul Toole, added 30 before Martindale lost concentration and was lbw for 17. Toole treated the home spinners with little mercy, playing a quickfire innings of 32 which included three sixes although when he was bowled by Sefton's South Australian professional, Pickering, the Recs score stood at 68-4 and the total of 205 seemed beyond them. At this stage Sefton had every reason to be confident of victory but that confidence gradually disappeared as David Tole and Mike Tarran proceeded to recue the innings, Tarran playing a solid knock in a partnership of 83 which was to prove to be the turning point of the match. When Tarran became Pickering's second victim for 21 Recs were still 55 short of the target with only seven overs remaining. Tole's excellent innings continued in positive style, but the re-introduction of Pickering saw the demise of Garvey and Recs still needing 31 from 3.2 overs. Skipper Morrison joined Tole and hit 14 from six deliveries to give Recs a glimmer of hope.

However, despite sterling efforts by Tole and Ford, the final over arrived with Recs still needing an unlikely 11 runs for victory. Ford kept his head, picking up a two and a single before Recs benefited from a no ball. Further runs from Tole and a boundary left the youngster facing the last delivery needing one for victory.

A confident drive past mid-on saw the Recs snatch a memorable victory, Ford finishing on nine not out whilst the hero of the innings, Tole ended with 70 not out.

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