A shambolic and at times embarrassing fielding display cost FPs a victory as they had to settle for a draw at Kemnay, denting their title ambitions. After making 204 for 9 declared in 41 overs, FPs could not manage to bowl Kemnay out despite having reduced them to 18 for 6 in only 10 overs.
FPs were back at close to full strength with Budd restored to the top of the order and MacDonald, Moir and Muthu also returning. Glen Millar made a first start for the season. Those dropping out were Fryer, Govil, Gill and Magesh who lined up for the second team. Stuart was unavailable due to family commitments.
Knudson lost the toss and was invited to bat first on a soft slow looking wicket. After a watchful start, Lord and Budd began to score freely with Budd in particularly dominant form, taking full advantage of anything short hitting a fine six over mid wicket and following up with 2 thumping fours moments later. The 50 stand was raised in only the 11th over and the partnership had reached 63 when Lord was was unfortunate to play on off the bowling of Fyffe. This brought Youles to the crease but he was soon on his way, bowled round his legs by Hawkins, leaving FPs on 64 for 2.
All-rounder MacDonald came in at 4 and was inexplicably dropped on 1, but soon took advantage of this looking to be positive as he and Budd built a fine partnership. Budd who had been dropped a sitter on 22 started to up the pace , drilling another six and picking up 4 more well struck boundaries. MacDonald then got in on the act hitting a huge six over mid wicket. As the score moved well past 100, Budd brought up his 50 with a 2 through the legside. It was a fine knock, with limited risk and he had scored in good time, making his 50 in 61 balls.
He really then began to score freely, moving quickly to 71 before he was deceived by a slower ball and tamely departed lofting a simple chance to cover. It had been a fine innings comprising 7 fours and 3 sixes, made from 78 balls. Moir came to the crease at 5 and he was soon to be joined by Millar as MacDonald played all round a straight one to be bowled for 28. Millar looked to get after the bowling straight away and he clubbed a rapid 20 in a 13 ball stay, hitting 3 fours and a six before being adjudged LBW, the only LBW victim of the day. With Moir struggling with injury he decided to retire hurt on 9 and with Sam Knudson falling for a duck, FPs batting was subsiding quickly with them now on 170 for 6, effectively 170 for 7.
Muthu was in at 8 and skipper Knudson at 9, Knudson hit two fours before falling for 8, which brought Fraser to the crease who was looking for his first run in 9 innings. It duly arrived with a push to cover, to a large cheer, however the joy was shortlived as he was caught at point for his solitary single. Morrison was in the unusual position of 11 with usual incumbent Stuart unavailable. Muthu was looking to play shots with the end of the innings looking, and he was caught and bowled for 18 by Fyffe to leave FPs 204 for 9 in 40.1 overs with Moir unable to resume.
FPs were in confident mood of claiming the 10 wickets they required for victory and it was Sam Knudson and Glen Millar who opened the attack with Muthu preferred behind the stumps to Fraser. Millar only took 4 balls to make his mark claiming Fyffe caught and bowled for 6. Sam Knudson quickly got in on the act bowling Watson via an inside edge for 3 It should have been 9 for 3 moments later as J Thom popped a tame catch to Budd who to the astonishment of everyone somehow managed to fail to claim it, in what will be remembered for many years to come as a real shocker. However, his blushes were soon spared as Thom pushed one into the air and Morrison turned quickly to dive a claim it over his shoulder to reduce Kemnay to 12 for 3. Two balls later it was 12 for 4 as Knudson cleaned up Stark. In Knudson’s next over, he had Hawkins caught at short leg, this time, Budd making no mistake. When Millar then comprehensively bowled Wallace, Kemnay’s innings seemed to be in tatters at 18 for 6 in only the 10th over.
However, FPS were about to self destruct as a combination of some extremely bad luck and some terrible catching was about to cost them victory over the next 39 overs. How FPs could take 6 wickets in 10 overs but then only 2 in the next 39 will be a question that could well be revisited if promotion is not achieved at the end of the season.
It was now Petrie and Copping who were at the crease and next to get involved in the dropped catches was Skipper Knudson who shelled a regulation chance at mid off. Youles was moved to gully and when Copping guided the next ball straight to him, he also let the bowler down as he grassed the chance.
Roland Knudson and MacDonald were now in the attack but were having little luck, with MacDonald particularly unlucky with numerous deliveries flying in the air into space and when a fielder was found the chance was dropped.
With the 50 stand brought up and FPs growing increasingly frustrated, Youles was introduced into the attack and eventually broke the stand with a top edge being well claimed by Muthu behind the stumps. FPs hoped this was the opening they had craved, however there was about be another stand to frustrate FPs further.
FPs were trying everything now and Moir, barely able to move due to injury bravely took the ball in an effort to win the game. This was yet another example of Moir going above and beyond the call of duty for the club he has shown such loyalty to as he bowled in great pain for 5 overs, conceding only 1 run, but unable to claim the vital breakthrough needed.
Sam Knudson was brought back and thought he had Thom only for MacDonald to drop the chance, however, MacDonald’s quick thinking did seem to have Petrie short of his ground but the umpire ruled otherwise. Morrison then failed to cling onto a one handed chance going to his left and it really looked like it was not going to be FPs day.
The game then take an odd twist as the home umpires made a catalogue of decisions which left the FP players confused and disappointed. After a number of extremely close LBW appeals, both Moir and Knudson were convinced they had West LBW, twice hit when right back on his stumps only for the umpire to give the batsman the benefit of the doubt. Aware that to get the wicket, Sam Knudson would need to hit the stumps, he duly obliged castling West, only for the umpire to call no ball, fully 5 seconds after the wicket had been broken. The FPs players although extremely unhappy with this incorrect call, showed remarkable restraint to get on with the game with minimal fuss.
Another few surprising wides and no balls were called as matters descended into farce as the game came to a close. To complete the late farce, Kemnay scorers attempted to insist on an extra over despite the game being completed, eventually relenting as both sides shook hands and headed for the dressing room to contemplate differing emotions. Sam Knudson was once again FPs hero ending with 5 for 51.
Although there had been a number of tight and unfortunate umpiring calls towards the end of the game, FPs inability to take simple catches was what had cost them victory and the FP players will be keen to remedy matters next week. Credit must also go to the Kemnay lower order as Petrie batted for a long time to make 63 not out and he was well supported by his fellow tail enders. The number of young players in Kemnay’s line up also boded well for their future. FPs now go to Fraserburgh looking to get their promotion campaign back on track next week.