A FINE display with both bat and ball from overseas amateur Darren Butler wasn't quite enough to stave off defeat for Helensburgh Cricket Club in their latest WDCU First Division fixture away to Ayr.

South African Butler was top scorer in the Helensburgh innings with 48, and went on to take a superb five wickets for just 24 runs to leave Ayr wobbling.

But the home side squeezed over the line by three wickets as Helensburgh were left lamenting two early dropped catches.

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Batting first on a good track, Helensburgh made a good start, with Calum Thornton finding some form and having his best knock of the season.

The visitors reached 41 without loss when captain Gregor Chambers fell to a remarkable catch at square leg.

But Thornton and Butler pushed the score on nicely, and at drinks Helensburgh had reached 83 for two, and looked well positioned for a good total.

The pair put on 54 for the third wicket, before Thornton fell for 43 with the score on 95.

Runs and wickets accumulated and fell steadily from there on, and Helensburgh were finally dismissed for 154, with Butler top scoring just two runs short of his half-century.

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Whilst the total probably felt around 20-30 short of what it could and should have been, it was still defendable if Helensburgh fielded well and took their chances.

Alas, that was not to be; both Ayr openers were dropped in the first 10 overs and the hosts went on to capitalise on the mistakes, putting on 100 for the first wicket.

Ayr looked to be cruising, but a superb spell of five for 24 from Butler and an excellent run out by Marc Christensen created mayhem in the Ayr ranks and put the game in the balance.

Chambers added another wicket to leave the home side seven down, but it wasn’t quite to be and Ayr got across the line to win by just three wickets.

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Chambers was in reflective mood afterwards, saying: “Pretty simple really, we didn’t take our chances and as we all know catches win matches.

“This game was there for the taking, so yes, I’m really disappointed to lose, but on the plus side, the boys showed fantastic spirit and fight.”

Helensburgh play host to table-topping Dumfries this Saturday, July 20, but the real excitement surrounds the club’s Gray-Nicolls Challenge Cup semi-final against Strathmore at Ardencaple on Sunday. Check back at this site for a full preview on Friday.