It was as exhilarating a finish as you could hope for in a Harrison-Allen Bowl final.

An epic contest between Haverfordwest and Cresselly had ebbed and flowed when from the final delivery of the day, Neilson Cole holed out to Dai Davies in the deep to ensure a five run win for The Town.

And yet, that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a contest which had the county talking before it had even begun.

The build up to the 2016 final should have been intriguing enough without any extras. Two of the best sides around, both packed with quality performers, and for Cresselly a chance for revenge having been humbled at the same stage by their rivals two years previously.

But the pre-match talk had been tainted by controversy. Earlier in the competition The Town had been accused of fielding an ineligible player against Pembroke Dock, but were subsequently cleared by the Pembroke County Cricket Club. The decision caused resentment in some quarters and meant many regular spectators stayed away from the final itself.

Justified or not, they missed a classic.

“Things were being said on social media but Danny (Potter) had told us not to get involved,” recalls Ben Field, Potter’s vice that season.

“So we made a conscious decision not to react – but we didn’t have any sit down conversations as a team about it.

“Perhaps it galvanised us a bit. When we played Tish in the semi finals at Carew we walked into the changing room and someone had crossed out Haverfordwest on the sign and put Pembroke Dock.

“So little things like that pulled us together.”

As it happened the player at the centre of it all, Adeel Khan, would play in the final and to his credit, perform well amidst some misguided heckling.

As usual, stumps were pitched for the big day at Cresselly at 12pm. By 12.10pm, things had already got frenzied.

Sam Harts had removed Field himself before a hammer blow for The Town as Ryan Lewis prized out Simon Holliday. The favourites were 6-2 but to counter that, Cresselly’s Simon Cole had injured himself celebrating the opening wicket and limped off in considerable pain.

“It was a really anxious start from us,” said Field.

“We’d wanted to get on with it and make use of the power play overs but got ourselves into trouble. But it was horrendous for Simon (Cole), he was such a key man for them and we all knew about his ability.”

But in this case, the calm came after the storm. Potter and Dai Davies steadily rebuilt matters with a partnership of 79, before the skipper fell to Mike Shaw having hit 10 fours in his 53.

But Adam James continued the momentum, announcing himself with two maximums in his quickfire 28, while Davies also accelerated late on to finish 56 not out – leading his side to 158-6.

“It was a first innings total we’d have taken at the outset especially after losing out best batsman in Simon (Holliday) co cheaply.

“Danny and Dapper’s partnership was important and they built slowly before really speeding things up. It was exactly what we needed.”

The Doves, minus ‘Snowy’ Cole, also ran into early trouble as Alex Bayley and Phil Williams both departed. Opener Adam Chandler made a steady 22 while Matthew Morgan accumulated sensibly, but at 84-4 after 13 overs they were facing a tea time deficit.

Enter Ryan Lewis.

Never one to bide his time, he would smash a rapid 47 (four sixes) while Morgan would go on to make a classy 61. Both were dismissed as Cresselly stalled somewhat in the final two overs, but the blast from Lewis had helped take his side to 168-6 – a slender lead of 10.

“That’s the sort of knock that Ryan is capable of,” said Field.

“If he hadn’t come in and done that then we would have been looking at a lead at tea. But at that stage we weren’t disappointed as we were still right in it.

“In fact, after the way we had started we were actually quite pleased to be just 10 runs off.”

Field himself cracked an early six as The Town signalled their intent before he was skittled by Lewis, but the innings would centre around one man.

Up until this point, ‘Doc’ Holliday’s record in Harrison-Allen Bowl finals had been somewhat mixed. On this afternoon however, he produced a knock of pure class that turned the tide considerably.

Him and Davies took matters to 112-1 before the latter went for 34, but Holliday’s assault continued and by the time he fell to Lewis in the 19th over, for a boundary laden score of 109, The Town were 165-4 and firmly in the ascendancy.

Some bludgeoned late hitting from Potter and Dan Cole took the final total to 200-4, setting Cresselly a seemingly unlikely 191 for victory.

“After failing in the first innings that knock from Simon showed the measure of the man.

“I maintain he is the best batsman we’ve ever had at the club but he is a real thinker and does get anxious and worried – which made his display under pressure even more impressive.

“I remember his second 50 vividly as there was a 10-15 ball period where he just dispatched the ball to all parts - he showed a different side to his game.

“As a team we were really confident after that and we felt there was a huge amount of pressure on Cresselly to chase it down.”

And yet, the hosts responded in kind as Chandler’s early charge took them to 48-1 in just six overs.

“We were aware he (Chandler) was one of the top run scorers in the league that season but we didn’t think he could dominate the short form so much.

“But it turned out he could. We knew they had to keep going and they did exactly that, it seemed like there was a boundary or two every over and we couldn’t stop it.”

And when Phil Williams went for 16, Matthew Morgan joined Chandler and continued where he left off in the first innings. With the pair looking assured, the confidence of The Town, and Field himself, began to drain.

“Those two were making it look effortless. Matthew had a great game that day and I remember one point where he just came down the track and knocked Adam back over his head. When I saw that I thought we were in trouble.

“By the fourth innings of a Harrison-Allen final the crowd have had a few beers and it gets noisy and the pressure was really starting to rise. At that stage I felt we were losing.”

Morgan departed for 42 and this time Lewis came and went quickly, but Chandler passed 50 and kept going and after Mike Shaw took Josh Wilmot for back to back sixes, Cresselly were left needing 25 to win with three over, and six wickets, in hand.

But it was then that James would bowl a massive over, one ironically, that few ever refer to because of what followed. He stemmed the tide by bowling Shaw and conceding just two singles – and the equation went from 25 off 18 to 23 off 12.

Again, the pendulum had swung. And still had more swinging to do.

“The 20th over was the one everyone forgets about,” said Field.

“It was game changing and suddenly put a hell of a lot of pressure back on them.”

Chandler responded to that pressure. In the 21st over he cracked Wilmot for three boundaries and with seven balls to go, just eight runs were now needed.

With the opener on 80, he was faced with a critical decision, take a single and be on strike for the last over? Or take aim for the clubhouse and effectively end matters now?

He chose the latter, but it wasn’t the clubhouse he picked out, it was Nigel Delaney fielding just yards in front of it.

“I’m glad it was Nigel under it,” admitted Field, insinuating he was very relieved it wasn’t him.

“I trust him in those situations as he loves that stage and the crowd pressure, so I wasn’t worried that he’d drop it.

“Chandler had the game in his hands so it was massive relief for us, things had swung back in our favour and we really believed again.”

And then came the over from James that everyone definitely does remember.

He opened up with two yorkers that clean bowled Harts and Bobby Webb, and the next three balls yielded just two singles and a run out.

Simon Cole did hobble out to the non-strikers end for the final ball in which home skipper Neilson Cole needed nothing less than a maximum. And as he lofted a shot towards cow corner, for one surreal moment time stood still.

“I’d played in the Duggie Morris final in 2014 when we lost to a final ball six and you struggle to get over that sort of thing. Especially as everyone has an opinion afterwards about what should have been done.

“I was at square leg for this and when the ball went up I thought oh my God, not again.”

As it happened the ball fell short of the rope and into the safe hands of Dai Davies. Cue pandemonium.

“It was a mixture of euphoria and relief from us,” admitted Field.

“I can’t think of anyone else who could do what Adam did in the last over.

“He loves the big stage and always wants the ball in his hands. To bowl yorker after yorker like that, in the right area and at that pace, showed his ingrain ability.”

And the ferocity of the contest was acknowledged by both sets of players afterwards. It was Holliday who took man of the match, but in truth there were ample candidates.

“I remember socialising with the Cresselly players outside the dressing room afterwards and there was real camaraderie. We all knew we’d been in a hard fought game.”

It would turn into a special season for The Town as they went on to pip Neyland to the league title, but it is the contest with Cresselly that lingers most in the memory of their vice-skipper that season.

“I thought the Bowl was gone towards the end of the match and then we came back into it.

“There were so many highs and lows during the day and it was just a brilliant game of cricket, one of the best I’ve ever played in.”

I’ll add to that. It’s one of the best I’ve ever reported on too.