Smalley four off last ball clinches Bendigo United victory  

A BOUNDARY off the last ball of the match by Bendigo United’s Marcus Smalley gave the Redbacks a thrilling two-run win over Golden Square in their Bendigo District Cricket Association game on Saturday.

The Redbacks and Square continued their trend in recent years of memorable finishes as Bendigo United got out of jail at Harry Trott Oval to take a stranglehold on second position.

Chasing Square’s 9-235, Bendigo United looked on track to cruise to a comfortable victory when it was 4-193 in the 70th over.

But Bendigo United-Square games always seem to throw up the unexpected, and this was no different.

From a position of dominance at 4-193, by the time the last over – to be bowled by Luke Baird – began, the Redbacks were 9-231, with Smalley (6 n.o.) and Miggy Podosky (2 n.o.) at the crease.

The Redbacks scored two runs off the first five balls of the over – a single each to Smalley and Podosky – leaving the equation three off the last ball to win, or two to tie, with Smalley on strike.

Smalley took a big swing outside off stump at Baird’s final delivery, with the ball hitting the inside edge and eluding Square wicket-keeper Max Grant as it raced to the boundary for four and the Redbacks finished at 9-237.

“I was just thinking about making contact with the ball and at least trying to get two runs,” Smalley said yesterday.

“I was very lucky that it came off the way it did.”

While the game will be remembered for Smalley’s last-ball four, Redbacks’ opener Matt Pinniger’s century put his side into a position where it should have won comfortably.

Pinniger showed his class with a superb knock of 127 on a day where most of his team-mates found batting tough going.

Pinniger batted until the 70th over, facing 220 balls and hitting 20 fours and one six.

The 33-year-old scored 127 of the Redbacks’ 193 runs while he was at the crease, but after his dismissal the momentum swung back Golden Square’s way.

With the game slipping away, Square picked up 5-36 as the Redbacks crashed to 9-229 with 14 balls left in the match, setting up the thrilling finish.

Aside from Pinniger, only three other Bendigo United players made double figures – Heath Behrens (29), Nick Crawford (23) and Joel Spry (24), who was brilliantly caught on the long-on boundary by Jason Johnson.

The two key partnerships of the innings were 74 for the second wicket between Pinniger and Behrens, and 92 for the fifth wicket between Pinniger and Crawford.

After his 48 n.o. last week, teenager Scott Woodman picked up 4-48 off 16 overs, and also caught Pat Naughtin (8) at gully.

Baird (2-69) and spinner Scott Johnson (2-49) took two wickets each for Square, while James Pietromonaco (1-23) claimed the key wicket of Behrens.

Golden Square has lost its past two games by a combined 10 runs and is now just four points inside the top four.

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