State and national all-rounder, Clint McKay (above), has guided Essendon to a strong win over Fitzroy-Doncaster in round seven of the Bartercard Victorian Premier League at Schramms Reserve in Doncaster. McKay came to the wicket with the Bombers in trouble at 6-165, still 87 runs in arrears of the Lions 252, but a 77-run partnership with Nishal Perera steered the Bombers to within 11 runs of victory.
McKay eventually fell for 71 off just 66 deliveries including nine boundaries and three sixes; Perera seeing them home with a boundary of Chris Moore in the eighty-second over after some cautious batting with tail-ender James Damjanovski.
Earlier the Bombers were looking comfortable at 1-120 with skipper Aaron Ayre (68) and opener Ben MacRae (45) combining for a 112-run partnership. However when Ayre hit one down the throat of Lee Stockdale on the boundary at deep square-leg of spinner Ejaaz Alavi the momentum of the game changed. Essendon then lost 4-45 with the Lion's bowlers on top and looking to cement their side's place at the top of the competition ladder.
It appeared when McKay made his way to the crease that he would be the difference and the Lions were keen for his scalp. Speedster Andrew Perrin had already claimed James Seymour and Callum Nankervis before having a confident lbw appeal on McKay turned down.
At tea Essendon were 6-180 with some work still to do. McKay and Perera thwarted the Lion's attack after tea as the experienced all-rounder scored freely. Perrin (2-69), Duckworth (2-52) and Alavi (2-57) shared the wickets for the home team but on a good wicket they found the task difficult especially with the Bomber's top-end batting in Ayre, MacRae and McKay.
The loss for the Lions sees them give up top spot on the ladder and slip to fifth, they face second-placed Carlton away next round in an important clash while the Bombers are back at home to face the Greenvale Kangaroos.