A LOWER order collapse in a tight run chase robbed Penarth of the chance to close the gap on league leaders Swansea as the visitors completed a vital 28 run victory in a tense top of the table clash on Saturday.

The win enabled Swansea to open up a clear advantage in the battle for the Premier Division 2 title as the second half of the season got under way.

Having won the toss Swansea had no hesitation in batting first and made a blistering start through skipper Brad Wadlan. Having taken five boundaries in the opening two overs the pressure showed no sign of relenting and Penarth had gone through four bowling options in the opening ten overs before Ryan Sylvester finally picked up the wicket of Jake Roberts with the score at 61.

A huge score still looked likely but crucially Wadlan followed 7 runs later for 45, bowled by Zac Essenhigh, and from there the picture changed dramatically. The introduction of spinners Richard Skone and Mark Thomas brought Penarth some control as the new batsmen found life much harder than the openers had.

Thomas bowled particularly well, and after a brief partnership between Ghori and Conor Miles claimed the wickets of both, plus that of Harry Arthur in a superb spell of 3 for 16. A stand of 56 followed before the returning Sylvester bowled Gareth Hayden for 29 and Will Skone, with 3 for 33, and Tom Sidford wrapped up the innings as the last five wickets fell for just 6 runs as Swansea finished at 177 all out.

The in-form Scott Matthews began the reply well for Penarth and despite losing Sylvester and Essenhigh made solid progress with Nick Morgan as Penarth moved to 76 for 2.

A watchful innings from Morgan ended when he was adjudged LBW to Wadlan for 20 before Richard Skone edged Penarth further towards their target in a in a stand of 39 with Matthews.

As the pressure mounted on both sides the game remained in the balance when Skone was stumped off Hayden for 20. Much relied on Matthews who calmly reached his half century before Penarth’s innings began to stutter. With the total at 126 Sidford fell LBW sweeping Wadlan and just 8 runs later Dafydd Manley was bowled by Ghori before Steffan Crimp was caught off the next ball.

There was to be no lower order drama and once Matthews was eventually 9th out for 64 any lingering doubts were gone and Swansea wrapped the innings up for 149 with four overs remaining. A disappointing result for Penarth in a game they looked like winning for much of it, they will look to get back to winning ways at Ynysygerwn this week.

The club is grateful to Brightoak Ltd for their match sponsorship.

The second XI made the short trip to St Fagans looking to continue their excellent form and returned with the narrowest of victories.

Batting first, Penarth made a solid, if unspectacular start against some economical home bowling.

The Penarth top six all made starts but no one could kick on as Nithin Mathias made the top score of 37. Having reached 164 for 4 Penarth lost an extraordinary 3 wickets to run outs for 1 run and were eventually all out to a fourth run out off the final ball of the innings for 182.

Rhys McGowan and Nathan Piddock took early wickets to leave St Fagans at 44 for 3 and after a good recovery Andrew Graveson and Tim Miller picked up 4 wickets with the score in the 90s to leave Penarth well on top. Neil Stephens bowled his usual miserly spell for 1 for 14 and at 135 for 9 a tense finish looked a long way off.

However, Penarth had reckoned without the dogged efforts of Zayn Zaman who brought his team to the brink of an unlikely victory with 42 before eventually chipping McGowan to Piddock just 6 runs short of their target.

The third team made a trip to Cefn Fforest and at half way were hopeful of picking up another league win after a solid bowling display. There were 2 wickets apiece for Mark Frost, Joe Walker and youngster Aaron Noormohamed as Cefn Fforest were restricted to 170 for 8 from their 40 overs.

Conrad Adams with 25 and an excellent 81 from Nick Viner made a significant dent in the run chase but a flurry of middle order wickets left Penarth in trouble. Geoff Thomas and Joe Walker moved Penarth towards the target but it proved to be a step too far and Penarth came up 11 runs short at 159 all out.

There was no league action for fourths but they did manage a hastily arranged friendly with Radyr 5ths and picked up yet another win. Dominic Dwyer made 50 not out and Dan Grosfils 39 in Penarth’s 220 all out. In reply Radyr were always struggling and Martin Dennett and Evan Friis took 3 wickets apiece as they made 115 all out.

The seconds and thirds will be at home to Newport and Crumlin respectively this week, with the fourths visiting Mountain Ash.