Juniors triumph to join top flight

PUBLISHED: 11:10 12 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:21 05 October 2010

By JONATHAN CLEGG VICTORIA Park Juniors qualified for Division One in the Victoria Park Community League after topping their qualifying group with a 17-run defeat of Goodmayes on Monday. Juniors clinched first place in the Green League and secured a bert


VICTORIA Park Juniors qualified for Division One in the Victoria Park Community League after topping their qualifying group with a 17-run defeat of Goodmayes on Monday.

Juniors clinched first place in the Green League and secured a berth in the top division for the league's Super Six phase thanks to a solid batting performance, highlighted by an 85-run partnership between Scott Howes-Doody and Haris Afridi.

Goodmayes, who led the qualifying group before this week's match, made a decent effort in pursuit of Juniors' total of 142-5, but a tight spell at the death by Burno Gonta saw Victoria Park seal a deserved triumph.

The outcome meant that Juniors joined Goodmayes in progressing to Division One, where they will retain the points for this defeat of their rivals.

Having won the title two years ago, Juniors will start among the favourites for the championship this time around and captain Joe Laurie believes they are capable of fulfilling their promise.

"I'm very optimistic we can do it and we've been tipped for the title by quite a few people in that league," said Laurie.

"Goodmayes were probably the favourites before we beat them so that was a very important result."

Juniors' results in the 16 overs-a-side competition have been in marked contrast to their displays in the North East London League, where sides are required to bat for 36 overs.

Last weekend, Victoria Park were humbled by London Fields in a 176-run defeat, but Laurie is convinced the youthful exuberance that has proved costly in the longer format is the team's key to success in the shorter game.

"We seem to be good at the shorter form of cricket but in the longer game, we're struggling," admitted Laurie.

"I think it's because the average age of the team is only about 16 or 17 -sometimes we get a bit carried away and want to smash every ball out of the park."

Yet the team's youth worked in their favour against Goodmayes as quick running between the wickets on a balmy evening laid a platform for a substantial total.

Openers James Panton and Howes-Doody made a solid start, scoring 32 runs in the opening four overs before Panton was bowled attempting to hit out.

Panton was replaced at the crease by Afridi, who hit a swashbuckling 50 in an impressive partnership with Howes Doody, despite the huge boundaries limiting both players to ones and twos.

Howes-Doody also completed his half century - his first of the league season - as Juniors posted an imposing total of 142-5.

Goodmayes got off to a flying start in reply, smashing 33 from the opening three overs, but Panton picked up a smart run-out to halt their momentum.

The match was evenly poised at the halfway stage, with Goodmayes on 72-1, but Afridi and Gonta put the brakes on the innings.

Gonta struck twice in his second over to increase the pressure on Goodmayes' middle order, who struggled to keep up with the required run rate.

With four overs remaining, Goodmayes were left needing 11 runs an over with three wickets remaining when Jamshaid Mirza made the crucial breakthrough, inducing a top edge which wicket-keeper Howes-Doody, scrambling backwards, safely pouched.

Gonta conceded just six runs from the final over to finish with figures of 2-34 as Victoria Park wrapped up a 17-run triumph.

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