FPs recovered from a seemingly hopeless position of 33 for 6 to chase down 136 to win with just 7 balls left in an absorbing contest. Vijay Vijapur was the hero making a superb and chanceless 54 not out as he batted 30 overs to steer FPs to victory. He was ably assisted by the lower order as 1st Paul Norwood (11) helped add 41 for the 7th wicket and then Sajid Hameed (13) and Gary Stuart (15*) helped FPs over the line. Earlier they had done well to restrict Mannofield to 135 for 8 in 46 overs as Gary Stuart took 3 for 28 in 11 overs.
Both teams were under strength with many key players missing, FPs managing to somehow raise 3 teams despite 42 players being unavailable. It was wholesale changes as only Morrison, Tenneti, Senthil, Vijapur, Swiergon and Stuart remained from the team that lost at Ellon. In came Lord and Norwood from the 3rd XI and Chovitya from the 2nd XI, Hameed returned to take the new ball and Jerry Moir was coaxed out of retirement for one game only as FPs named an unusual 11. They amazingly won the toss on a damp pitch and despite the shock, Morrison decided to field.
Vijapur and Hameed shared the new ball and started well, Innes and Grayson battling hard against a testing spell with the new ball. They added 39 in the opening 19 overs on a tricky surface and it took a real pearler to dislodge Innes as he was bowled for a good 17. It was soon 46 for 2 as Jerry Moir rolled back the years, diving to his left to claim a stunning one handed catch at slip to remove Aaron Grayson for 2 as Vijapur claimed a 2nd wicket. Scoring was difficult and the pressure told in the 27th over as David Grayson was superbly bowled by Chovitya for 29.
Mannofield were trying hard to up the rate, but a triple blow checked their progress as Stuart bowled Zaiman for 16, Sudakhar (4) was brilliantly run out attempting a 2nd to Swiergon, Morrison completing the task and Van Oorschot was bowled 1st ball by Hameed. Mannofield 155 for 6 in 42. The 43rd over was a wicket maiden as Senthil easily caught the dangerous Chandu for 26. Some late hitting boosted Mannofield to 134 for 8, Stuart bowling Cameron for a duck while Johnston hit a quick 21.
On the face of it, it seemed a below par total, but the pitch was fairly turgid and FPs batting was not looking as strong as usual. All the bowlers did well with Vijapur 12-4-22-2 bowling very few bad balls, Hameed as accuarte as ever with 12-3-29-1, Chovitya looking dangerous with 8-2-25-1, Stuart on form claiming 11-3-28-3 and Moir bowling 3 overs for 21.
Requiring to leave early, Moir opened with Morrison and struck two trademark boundaries as FPs started well, but he fell with the score on 16, bowled for 10 by Chandu. Scoring was difficult and Morrison failed to dispatch a wide full toss toe-ending it to Van Oorschot in the gully to hand Johnston a wicket, to depart for 6. Senthil was ruled LBW to Chandu for a duck and Tenneti misjudged a straight ball to be bowled for 9. Swiergon was bowled by Chandu for 1 and James Lord was soon LBW to Johnston for a duck. FPs in complete disarray at 33 for 6 in 15 overs.
FPs desperately needed a partnership, to avoid humiliation and Vijapur and Norwood came together hoping to dig FPs out of a serious hole. They were probably pleased to see the rampant openers replaced by Awan and Grayson and were able consolidate hanging in for 17 overs to add 31 well crafted runs. They looked well in command without scoring quickly, but when Norwood looked to up the scoring he was well stumped by Innes off Grayson for 11. It was the sort of low score that most would pass over, but if it had not been for his desire to keep Mannofield out, FPs chances would have been gone.
FPs now needed 61 from the last 12 overs having taken 32 overs to make 74 and Mannofield were certainly not considering that FPs might chase the runs down. However, Vijapur was starting to find his timing and cut two fours in one Grayson over and his new partner Hameed blasted two boundaries as FPs started to sense an improbable victory. They had reduced the target to 26 from the last 4 overs but the returning Johnston removed Hameed with a full toss that Hameed could not cleanly connect with and was caught at deep mid wicket for 13.
Mannofield were now confident again but Vijapur smacked Van oorschot for a boundary to mid wicket as FPs kept in touch as he passed 50, the equation down to 21 from 3. Stuart was lucky to survive a run out chance as they ttok a sharp one to the keeper. Before, Vijapur launched a straight four and Stuart carved Johnston through the covers as the 42nd over brought 10, and the equation reduced to 11 from 12. After much discussion Van Oorschot continued and Vijapur got a single from the 1st ball, there was a wide and Stuart was missed a tough chance in a frantic finish. Vijapir clubbed a boundary and scrabled another single, leaving the stage set for Gary Stuart to stroke a on drive to the boundary as FPs claimed an improbable victory.
Vijapur finished on 54 not out having hit 6 fours with Stuart not out 15. It was an intriguing game, played in a good spirit and Mannofield will have been disapointed to lose it having been well in control. It again underlined the good spirit in the FP camp as the bowlers dug the batsmen out for a 2 wicket win. Norwood, Chovitya, Lord and Moir did themselves proud in helping out the 1st XI and Vijapur showed what patient batting can do. Stuart and Hameed also did well with bat and ball and FPs work in the field was excellent.
Next week FPs travel to Banchory where they will have some players returning to boost numbers.