Villagers clock up victory but captain calling for improvement

Johnny Conn (left) and Colin Stewart following impressive individual displays for Laurelvale thirds against Saintfield.
Johnny Conn (left) and Colin Stewart following impressive individual displays for Laurelvale thirds against Saintfield.

Laurelvale sit second in the Section Two standings but captain David Sinton is refusing to allow results to mask the recent drop in performance levels.

Only Cliftonville’s perfect record can surpass the start made by the Villagers this season at league level - but wins across the past fortnight have offered areas of concern.

“We managed to get wins over Cooke and Millpark but need to improve in certain areas,” said Sinton. “In the end, Jeff Haire scored a four when we needed a single off the final two balls to get us a one-wicket win.

“The rain played a part in disrupting the Millpark match but we required Muhammad Ajmal to come in and post 60 to help steady our innings.

“Philip Weir also scored an important 38 but our batting has been poor across the past few weeks.

“To be honest, against Millpark we struggled in a number of ways.

“Our bowling has been so reliable but we were poor last weekend and bad in the field, as well as in terms of scoring.

“I had confidence in Jeff to get us over the line but we will take a look at the overall performance in practice.

“I would like stronger numbers at practice maybe and players must look back over the past few games and aim to learn from mistakes.

“We have been able to get out of jail in recent weeks but that cannot continue down the line.”

Laurelvale face a weekend double-header following the DLS defeat of Millpark - with games tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday.

The Villagers play host to Holywood on Saturday before a visit to Dundrum.

Laurelvale seconds enjoyed success by seven wickets over Ballymena thirds.

Laurelvale thirds’ programme has provided a long-standing blend of youth and experience.

Saturday’s defeat of Saintfield on the road produced the perfect example of the system’s success.

Twelve-year-old Johnny Conn - one of the Villagers’ promising prospects - finished with a superb hat-trick on the way to five wickets for the loss of just 11 runs.

The experienced Colin Stewart, who has been a driving force behind the club’s modern youth programme, finished with an innings of 100 not out.

Laurelvale posted a 91-run success overall against Saintfield, with Conn and Stewart key to victory.