Aberaeron came out on top by the smallest of margins in the crucial top of the table clash at Cae Rhianfa in a day full of drama.

Tywyn & District (125) lost to Aberaeron (128-9) by 1 wkt, Fine & Country West Wales Conference

Before a ball was bowled Aberaeron lost Kevin Regan to injury, a stray ball opening a wound above his eye to leave him unable to take the field. Having scored 52* in 20 balls last time he had played at this ground, it was a big loss to the batting line up. Aberaeron did have a 12th man however so Arif Saad took his place in the team.

Tywyn won the toss and elected to bat first. The openers Dave Jenkins and Joe Williamson started confidently against Paul Hughes and Ollie Evans in windy conditions, the cross breeze making it tricky for the bowlers to find their line.

Hywel Rees made a double bowling change early on bringing on Steff Rees for the eighth and himself for the ninth over. Hywel made the breakthrough Aberaeron had been searching for immediately, Joe Williamson having survived one big appeal for lbw, was trapped in front for 15 with the score on 41.

Jack Williamson, the top scoring batsman in the Championship, with 568 runs so far this season, came out at number 3. Aberaeron knew that his was a crucial wicket, having watched him amass a chance-less century in the reverse fixture. It was not to be for Jack on this occasion however as a mix up between the batters whilst attempting a second run on the arm of Jamie Davies at deepish mid-on led to a run out.

Sion Francis was another batter in form at four and looked in good nick, stroking an early boundary through the covers. However, consecutive maidens from Hywel, backed up by tight bowling from Steff led to pressure on the batters and Hywel struck in his fifth over to bowl Francis with a swinging delivery for 7 to leave Tywyn 63/3.

Two deliveries later the game took another turn as Hywel aggravated an injury he has been managing all season and was unable to continue bowling. Having taken 2 for 7 in 4.4 overs, it was a big blow to Aberaeron.

Sam Williams and Dave Jenkins took Tywyn to drinks at 80/3 however the break worked in Aberaeron’s favour as Ollie Evans, returning for his second spell, bowled Jenkins for 22 in the 21st and Steff Rees then bowled Niki Williams for 2 in the 22nd.

Ollie was proving a handful for the Tywyn middle order and he struck again four overs later to bowl Moc Llewelyn for 6.

Whilst Sam Williams remained Tywyn still had hope of a defendable total however Ollie took the vital wicket in his next over, Williams popping up a catch to Jamie Davies at mid wicket to fall for 19.

With the more experienced bowlers bowled out, Aberaeron turned to the young pair of Morgan Ashton and Ifan Rishko to remove the tail and the pair completed the job admirably. Morgan struck with his second ball to clip the top of middle stump and bowl Joel Eynon for 6. Three balls later, Matthew Maslin departed too, attempting a third run on an overthrow, only for Ted Trewella to hit the stumps at the bowlers end, backing up from long on.

Eynon and Maslin had taken Tywyn past 120 to secure a potentially vital third batting point but their departures left Ed Hughes and Rhys Llewelyn as the final pair. Ifan Rishko trapped Ed in front for 0 attempting to walk across his stumps and flick to fine leg, to close Tywyn’s innings on 125.

The players enjoyed a fine tea before Aberaeron began their chase of a low total.

Tywyn knew early wickets were vital and were lively in the field in search of the breakthrough. Joe Williamson bowled with pace and aggression at the changing room end and Sam Williams opened at the other with flighted left arm spin.

Joe delivered the wicket Tywyn were after in the sixth over, bowling Steff Rees for 2, and when he repeated the trick in his next over to remove Alex Pitchford for 3, Tywyn were right back in the game.

Ted Trewella joined Ollie Evans with Aberaeron struggling at 18/2 in the face of challenging bowling from both ends.

The pair survived, Sam inducing edges from both which evaded the field and started to build a partnership.

Ollie looked for the gaps to take ones and twos and Ted was the more aggressive, a six which Jack Williamson could only palm over on the dive was the highlight of his innings.

Sam finally got reward for his probing spell when he removed Ted for 22 in the 14th over with the score on 49.

Dave Floyd was next in and, with Ollie, saw off the openers Joe and Sam who’d combined for 3-53 in a dangerous spell. Jack Williamson was first change and, having failed with the bat, was desperate to impact the game with the ball.

That he did, striking in his first over, Dave Floyd chipping up to mid off to give Ed Hughes a regulation catch.

Jamie Davies came out at 6 and the field immediately spread to challenge him to try to clear the boundary in windy conditions with four catchers waiting. Jamie took the sensible option early on and hit powerfully along the ground before finally opening up against Moc Llewelyn to take two big sixes.

With Jamie and Ollie going well and the score reaching 90, it seemed the game was in the bag for Aberaeron but Jack persevered and was rewarded with the wicket of Ollie, trapped LBW for a crucial 27 runs.

Hywel Rees came out at an unfamiliar number 7, injury limiting his ability to run. The skipper struck two fours and three limped singles to the deep and watched as Jamie clubbed the biggest six of the day, clattering into the changing rooms, before he too fell to Jack Williamson, caught by Moc Llewelyn. 114/6 quickly became 114/7 as Jack bowled Morgan Ashton first ball to pick up his fourth wicket.

Arif Saad joined Jamie with 12 runs required for victory and three wickets in hand as what had appeared to be a routine chase had suddenly turned into a nail biter. With Jack Williamson picking up wickets at his end, Sion Francis was entrusted with the job at the other. He very nearly did, with an edge from Saad’s bat finding its way through the cordon for four and another going down at gully. Five runs from the over left Aberaeron on 119 and requiring 7 more for victory.

Jack came back to start his seventh over on a hat-trick and Jamie Davies on strike. A tempting full ball saw Jamie attempt to repeat his big six but hitting into the wind he picked out Niki Williams who held the catch to give Jack his hat trick and five-for. However with Jamie departing for 38 and the score still on 119 the match situation overtook personal milestones as all eyes were on the tight finish.

Ifan Rishko joined Arif and took a single second ball to advance the score to 120 before Arif popped up a simple catch to Ed Hughes at cover to leave Aberaeron on the brink of defeat.

Paul Hughes was the last hope for Aberaeron and a single from his second ball meant Aberaeron required 5 to win and he kept the strike. Francis opened with a fast short ball, striking Hughes in the ribs and setting him up for the full straight one. Despite beating the bat, Francis couldn’t hit the stumps however and a wide and a scrambled single from the final ball left Aberaeron on 123, requiring 3 runs, and Hughes on strike again.

Jack Williamson had one over left and, having already taken 6 Aberaeron wickets, looked to wrap up an unlikely victory for Tywyn. His first four balls came close but Hughes survived. The fifth, he managed to lay bat on ball and set off for a single; the pick up and throw was smooth but in gathering and taking the bails off Jack just gave Hughes time to make his ground and leave Aberaeron on 124.

Young Ifan Rishko, with the field brought up around him to increase the pressure, powered the final ball of Jack’s over through mid on for four to secure the victory for Aberaeron in dramatic fashion.

Aberaeron secured 18 points for the win, but having taken 9 wickets, Tywyn’s 7 points was enough to leave them top of the table on 142 points going into the final round of matches. Rachel’s Talybont sit second on 140, having secured a maximum 20 points in defeating Aberystwyth 1st XI with Aberaeron in third on 138.

A win for Tywyn against AU Commoners next weekend would secure the league title for Tywyn, but if they slip up, or fail to secure 18 points, then they can still be overtaken by the winner of Talybont vs Aberaeron on what will be a Super Sunday to bring the Fine & Country WWCCC Championship to a conclusion.

Report: Arif Saad