ONLY 49 points separates the top eight clubs in the ECB Premier Division of the Chapel Press Cheshire County League after another series of upsets.
Again not playing like leaders, Neston continued to struggle with a losing draw at Toft where their bowlers took a caning from Pat Roberts (108no) and Ed Bones (70) who helped pile up a tally of 272-6. Neston’s batting again struggled, although this time they managed to hold out for a draw at 163-8, thanks to a fighting 42 from Chris Hackett.
Alderley Edge are now just 16 points behind in second place after an impressive eight wickets win chasing 209-6 at Urmston, for whom outstanding Aussie Sean Clarence top-scored with 57.
An unbroken third wicket stand worth 158 between Richard Wilkinson and wicket-keeper Andy Worrall, who both ended up with 90 not out, carried their side home.
Nantwich’s fourth successive victory, a run which has earned them 97 points, came at the expense of reigning champions Oulton Park at Little Budworth. Oulton were dismissed for the unusually low score of 96 by in-form paceman Jimmy Warrington, whose 7-59 return takes his tally for the season to 44 wickets, and Barrington Browne 3-35.
Now in a threatening third spot, Nantwich replied with 99-3, Lou Vincent making an unbowed 40.
Hyde also stay in the title reckoning and plunged Oxton back into relegation danger with a six wickets win at Townfield Lane. Oxton mustered only 100, Danny Berry 5-47, Rob Woolley 4-34 and Hyde had the match won rapidly after tea at 101-4, Dave Fitzsimmons making 36. Andy Birley took 4-37.
Chester Boughton Hall improved their situation with a convincing home win over Didsbury, who posted 178, Marcus Fisher top-scoring with 73, while opening batsman turned part-time seamer Warren Goodwin claimed a career-best 5-45. Boughton Hall ‘s Steve Ogilby, 52 and Ed Roberts, 48, then carried their side to victory by four wickets. Five of the Didsbury players made the journey from south Manchester to Chester and back by canal barge.
Bottom of the table Bramhall nearly snatched an unlikely win at Bowdon in a low-scoring game which started late due to rain. Bramhall were restricted to 138-9 from 56 overs, off-spinner Gareth Edwards bowling unchanged for the third week in a row to return 5-40. Bowdon scraped home with two balls to spare with their last pair together, Edwards (10) being partnered by Lancashire paceman Steve Cheetham who batted with an injury, to keep his end up.
For Bramhall John Birchall, 4-41 and Simon Wilkinson, 4-72, just failed to force their side’s first win since May 8.