THE Groves have survived their fight against relegation from the Meller Braggins League, despite falling to defeat at Chelford on Saturday.
Having started the season with eight consecutive defeats, the Ellesmere Port side have been embroiled in a dogfight all summer – but events elsewhere over the weekend ensured their safety.
Firstly, Groves discovered on Saturday evening that Bowdon Vale were definitely relegated after a heavy home loss to CH Ladybridge meant they were destined to finish bottom of Division Three.
They were also relieved to learn that only one team will go down this year – rather than the usual two – because Birkenhead Park are leaving the Meller Braggins League to play in the Liverpool Competition next year.
The news was gratefully received by Groves skipper Mike Garvey.
He said: “We’re obviously delighted to survive, especially after losing the first eight games and looking dead and buried at the halfway point.
“We’ve played some great cricket since the turnaround and had some great wins. I’d still like to finish the season on a high and finish outside the bottom two on merit.”
Groves are third from bottom with two games of the season remaining.
A good run of form over the second half of the season has seen them edge slowly out of the bottom two, but on Saturday they had no answer to promotion chasing Chelford.
The hosts opted to bat first and got off to a poor start, Damian Walters (4-34) trapping former Pakistan Test player Shahid Mahboob (0) third ball.
Walters continued to cause problems as Chelford dipped to 83-5, but the remaining wickets came at a bit of a cost. Mike Garvey (4-30) snaffled four – all caught – as Chelford were all out for 152.
The Groves knew it was a chase-able total, but they got off to an horrendous start when Tony King (0) was out lbw to Mahboob (5-36) in the first over.
The former Pakistan international was Groves’ chief tormentor, with only Garvey (19) and Martin Flanagan (18) putting up much resistance as the visitors were all out for 98 – their lowest score of the season.
Garvey said: “We just had one of those days. I just hope we don’t let the season finish similarly to how it started and we can pick up at least another win.”
Groves host Stretton this Saturday. Play starts at 1pm.