AN unbeaten 91 from Mark Ryan inspired Bendigo to a remarkable against-the-odds win over Bendigo United in the Bendigo District Cricket Association on Saturday.
Chasing Bendigo United's 5-199 in their round nine one-day game at Bendigo District RSL Oval, the Goers looked gone at 7-84 and later 9-166.
However, Ryan, with support from Liam Gaskell and Jotham Higgs, rallied to lead the Goers - who had entered the game on the bottom of the ladder - to a memorable one-wicket victory.
The Goers were on the backfoot when between the 14th and 23rd overs they crashed from 3-58 to 7-84.
But Ryan, batting with a hamstring problem, and Gaskell batted the Goers back into the game with a momentum-shifting 81-run partnership for the eighth wicket.
Gaskell made 15, but when he was dismissed by Leigh McDermott and Tom Kirk (0) was trapped lbw by Miggy Podosky, the Goers were on the ropes again at 9-166 in the 39th over.
Still 34 runs from victory and facing an uphill battle, Ryan and No.11 Higgs defied the Redbacks' attack to chase down their target, winning with seven balls to spare as the Goers answered with 9-200.
While Ryan scored the bulk of the runs, Higgs (2 n.o.) did a brilliant job in holding up an end in just his fourth first XI innings.
Ryan's 91 n.o. came off 88 balls and included 12 boundaries and a six as he took his tally of runs for the season to 275 at an average of 39.2.
The 43-year-old came in with the Goers 6-72 and scored 91 of the Goers' 128 runs when at the crease.
Behind Ryan's unbeaten 91, the next best score for Bendigo was the returning Marcus McKern's 25 opening the batting.
Spinner Nick Crawford (3-40) was the Redbacks' leading wicket-taker, while McDermott (2-26), Podosky (2-34) - who had gone wicket-less in his previous two games - and Byron Perrin (2-41) took two apiece.
Bendigo United wicket-keeper Harry Donegan took four catches and now has 17 for the season.
Earlier, Heath Behrens (58 off 77, four fours, two sixes) scored a half-century for the Redbacks, who lost to the Goers for just the fourth time since 2000.
The BDCA's leading run-scorer Matt Pinniger scored a quickfire 49 off 27 (four fours, three sixes) late in the innings, while opener Wayne Fidler made 41 off 98 and shared in an 84-run partnership for the second wicket with Behrens.
Ryan (2-31) was Bendigo's multiple wicket-taker, dismissing Behrens and Bryan Vance (21).
Higgs didn't take a wicket, but was economical in conceding just 14 runs off nine overs.
The loss was Bendigo United's second in a row and cost the Redbacks their position in the top four.
• Golden Square retained its unbeaten record after defeating Strathdale-Maristians by 19 runs in the top-of-the-ladder clash at Bell Oval.
It was a high-scoring contest, with the two teams combining for 489 runs.
Batting first for the eighth time this season, Square crunched 9-254 off its 45 overs.
Scott Johnson (35 off 66) and John Lalor gave Golden Square a strong start with a 72-run partnership for the first wicket.
Johnson was the first wicket to fall in the 19th over, which brought Scott Trollope to the crease, who provided plenty of entertainment.
Trollope blasted 70 off just 44 balls, which included seven sixes.
While Trollope was batting, Golden Square scored 109 runs between the 19th and 32nd overs.
Lalor survived three dropped catches to score 60 off 65 (six fours, three sixes), while in his first innings for Square, David Blume finished unbeaten on 38 off 47 (three fours).
Celebrating his 16th birthday, Jack Neylon claimed 2-49 for the Suns. Spinner Nick Roebuck (2-47) also took two wickets.
Missing their three best batsmen in Travis King, Cameron Taylor and captain Linton Jacobs on Victoria Country duties, the Suns didn't go down without a fight, answering with 8-235.
They had been in trouble early at 2-14 with the dangerous Adrian Pappin (10) and Neylon (1) out.
However, stand-in skipper Ben DeAraugo and veteran Ben Smith batted the Suns back into the contest with a 114-run third wicket-partnership.
DeAraugo top-scored for the Suns with 67 off 74 (seven fours, two sixes). Smith scored 44 off 61 (four fours, one six).
However, the Suns' momentum halted when they fell within nine runs of each other, leaving the score 4-137 and from there, it became hard work again for Strathdale.
Spinner Jamie Bysouth (3-42), who dismissed both DeAraugo and Smith, and Luke Baird (3-41) picked up three wickets each for Golden Square in its first win over the Suns since the 2009 grand final.
• White Hills moved a step closer to its first finals appearance since 1999 with another victory.
The Demons' five-wicket win over Kangaroo Flat at KWD Oval improved their record to 7-2 and moved them into second position.
Kangaroo Flat was bowled out for 144 in the 42nd over after winning the toss and batting.
It was an ordinary scorecard for the Roos, with only stalwart Brad Orton (35, four fours, one six) and captain Adam Burns (26, two fours) making more than 20.
The Roos had one stage been 3-87, but lost 6-34 to slump to 9-121.
The last pair of Andrew Brown (13 n.o.) and Liam Jones (12) added 23 for the last wicket in what was the second-best partnership of the innings.
Gareth Davies picked up 3-39 for the Demons. Rhys Irwin and Travis Colley both took 2-24 off nine overs.
White Hills had a mid-innings scare in its chase before replying with 5-146, winning in the 34th over to beat Kangaroo Flat for just the second time since the mid-1990s.
Having been cruising at 1-84, the Demons lost 4-11 to fall to 5-95 as the Roos breathed life back into the contest.
Brad Perrow (2-13) was instrumental in the Roos' fightback, dismissing Sam Stagg (2) and Davies (9) and running out Demons' captain Daniel Larke (1).
However, the returning Gavin Bowles (24 n.o.) and Oliver Geary (22 n.o.) guided the Demons over the line with an unbeaten 51-run partnership.
While Bowles and Geary finished the innings, opener Brayden Stepien set it up with a blistering 66 that was laced with nine fours and one six.
The loss sent the Roos to the bottom of the ladder.
• Eaglehawk is back in the top four following a five-wicket victory over Strathfieldsaye at Tannery Lane.
The Jets were bundled out for 133 batting first after a quick start in which they took just 11 overs to score their first 50 runs.
However, from what had been 2-62, the Jets struggled to build partnerships and were all out in the 42nd over. Only captain Ben Devanny (25) made more than 20.
Cory Jacobs (3-22 off nine overs) was the pick of the bowlers for the Hawks, while Cameron McGlashan (2-22 off nine), who also took a sharp catch to dismiss Levi Walker (1), was economical.
The Jets gave themselves a chance of victory when they had the Hawks under pressure at 5-58 in reply.
However, Shane Taylor (42 n.o, five fours), who also took 2-14, and Zac East (27 n.o, three fours), playing against his former club, batted the Hawks out of trouble with an unbroken 76-run stand for the sixth wicket as Eaglehawk reached 5-134 in the 34th over.
Taylor was the only player in the game to make more than 30.
Ben Devanny (2-16 off nine overs), who leads the Bendigo Advertiser-Bicknells Player of the Year, bowled well to continue his fine season, and Walker (2-20) also took two wickets for the Jets.
• Huntly-North Epsom kept itself within 12 points of the top four, defeating Sandhurst by three wickets at J.L. King Weeroona Oval.
Batting first, the Dragons fell from 4-98 to be bowled out for 137 in the 41st over. The collapse included Sandhurst's last four wickets falling for just 10 runs.
Shane Robinson continued his return to form with 51 off 79 to be the best of the Dragons batsmen, while after going into the Christmas break averaging 132 in his previous three hits, Sandhurst captain Craig Howard made a second-ball duck.
The Power's Quinton Bentley bowled superbly against his former side, taking the first four wickets to fall on the way to 4-27 off seven overs, while another ex-Dragon, spinner Dylan Gibson, snared 2-33 opening the bowling.
In reply, the Power passed their target in the 34th over, scoring 7-138, although, there were some anxious moments when they lost 3-1 to fall from 4-109 to 7-110, before captain Linc McRae (11 n.o.) and Bentley (15 n.o.) finished the job.
Earlier, Josh Collinson and Sam Johnston both kept their running to a minimum in their innings.
Collinson's 32 off 25 included six fours, one six and two singles, while Johnston's 27 off 33 was made up of six fours and one three.
Leg-spinner Liam Bowe (2-47) was the only multiple wicket-taker for the Dragons, who lost to the Power for the fourth time in a row.