THE ECB National Club Championship remains an itch that Woodlands have yet to scratch.

For the second time in three years the Bradford side bowed out at the last-16 stage to a Liverpool & District Competition side - at Wallasey in 2022 and at home to league leaders Ormskirk this time around.

A late-morning downpour at Albert Terrace meant an early tea and a 3.30pm start in a game that was reduced from 40 overs per side to 32.

Bradford Premier League champions Woodlands chose to field, and Muhammad Bilal took two early wickets.

But Ormskirk skipper Gary Knight led the recovery with 63, backed up nicely by Harvey Rankin (47) and George Politis (43), as the visitors posted 202-7.

Bilal (3-29) and Woodlands captain Brad Schmulian (2-36) did their best to keep a lid on the scoring.

In a tense atmosphere, home opener Sam Frankland (35) and Schmulian (32) put on 51 for the second wicket.

Tom Clee (66 not out) and Kieran Collins (45) then took up the reins and kept pace with the run rate, and their partnership of 94 looked certain to see Woodlands over the line.

Woodlands needed 20 off the last two with seven wickets in hand, but then everything fell apart for them.

Left-arm spinner Toby Bulcock (3-33), who dismissed Bilal and Liam Collins for golden ducks, and pace bowler Sam Holden were not to be denied as Ormskirk won by seven runs, taking three wickets between them in those final 12 balls while conceding only 13 runs.

Big-hitting Muhammad Bilal was clean bowled, a vital moment in a tight match between Woodlands and Ormskirk. first ballBig-hitting Muhammad Bilal was clean bowled, a vital moment in a tight match between Woodlands and Ormskirk. first ball (Image: Ray Spencer.)

Hero of the hour Bulcock said: “We have been quite fortunate and know a couple of the Woodlands players, who have played for Cumberland, such as Scott Richardson, so I am familiar with a few of their lads.

“You come to these away games and you have a very good idea of what they are about as Premier League cricket is much of a muchness wherever you are - whether it is Bradford, elsewhere in Yorkshire or the Liverpool comp - and the standard is very much on par.

“We thought that 202 was a relatively good score, having turned it around from 15-2 and set a target that was around par, so we were quietly chuffed.

“When they took 15 runs in two successive overs to go from 115-3 to 145-3 we knew that we had to put a stop to the boundaries to have a chance of winning.

“Sam is a very experienced seamer who bats at No.3 and was a bit unlucky with his decision to be given out early in our innings, but seeing how he bowled today was absolute testament to the cricketer that he is.

“The pitches in the Liverpool comp are quite large, but that is the beauty of this competition that you get to visit these different places with different styles of pitches, and you have to learn the knack of how to compete on them.

The difference for us here was our opening bowler Sam Marsh, who took 9-18 on Saturday against Formby, lasted two balls here before pulling his groin, and that cost us 30 or 40 runs.

“But that is testament to us as a team that Gary has so many options that he can turn to.

“In hindsight we probably should have played an extra seamer, but we managed to edge it in the last over, and that is a really good reflection of where we are as a club.”