CHESTER Boughton Hall's hopes of knocking Bowdon off the top of the Murray Smith Cheshire County League were comprehensively dashed at South Downs Road on Saturday.
Victory would have allowed them to leapfrog the hosts into top spot in the Premier Division, but their run of six wins in seven unbeaten games ended in a low-scoring match.
At 51-1 with Heath Pritchard on 20, there was the prospect of a respectable total, but it all went suddenly wrong and they crashed to 87 all out with Lancashire off-spinner Gary Yates making the most of the conditions to claim 7-28.
Chester thought they had a glimmer of hope as Bowdon lost three wickets for 53 in reply, but the champions got home without further loss.
The second team match against Bowdon was abandoned because of rain, but enough play was possible for Chester to reach 151-6. Phil Thomas remained unbeaten on 48, while Sam Chapman found his batting form with a quick 33, supported by 22 from substitute 'keeper Andrew Chamberlain.
The bad weather took longer to reach Upton, where the third team played another of their challengers for top spot. A green wicket dictated Jamie Brown's decision to insert the opposition, but the track never played as badly as it looked.
The opening bowling partnership of Mike Daly and Pete Cluderay, with a combined age of 100, regularly beat the bat, but could boast only one wicket each.
Doug Ramsay (3-63) alternated unplayable deliveries with balls lost in neighbouring gardens, while Mark Slater was unlucky not to take a wicket. Superb f ielding by Cluderay led to a key run-out, but Upton were still able to post a very challenging 219-8.
Chester's reply began sedately and was soon behind the asking rate, despite a classically played 66 from Tim Bonser. Never was there a better time for a captain's innings, and Brown obliged, hitting the bowling to all parts with a fine array of strokes. He was ably supported by a controlled 28 not out from Tom Evans.
The skipper was bowled for 63 with eight runs needed off nine balls, but young Evans guided Cluderay through and the victory was sealed. A tremendous cricket match, played in rain and gloom for its last two hours, came to its climax at 8.55pm!
The fourth team game was abandoned. A stunning opening stand of 191 between Andrew Kent (139) and Danny Leech (54) laid the foundations for OULTON PARK's victory over Urmston at Little Budworth.
Kent's innings was breathtaking. He hit the f irst ball past the bowler for four, raced to his 50 in 31 balls and his century, in 71 balls, was reached with a towering six. When he was run out, Park squandered wickets for runs as they raced to a declaration at 269-5.
Urmston had a sound start to reach 60-1, but a stunning catch by Steve Yates to dismiss the dangerous Ian Grindley for a duck convinced Park it was their day. The introduction of Chris Jones (3-38) and John Davies (2-9) made the breakthrough which Kent (3-23) exploited to reduce them to 90-8.
Graham Saunders hit out for an unexpected 56 before quicksilver wicketkeeper Mike Bentham stumped the last two batsmen to take his tally of victims to four.
Park travel to Oxton tomorrow while on Sunday they stage the annual President's match, starting at 11.30am.
CHRISTLETON chalked up their 10th league win of the season after being bowled out for a modest 111 by Mobberley. Matt Parkinson claimed 4-12 as the visitors were sent back for just 70 runs.
The thirds travelled to Woodford on Sunday, looking to extend their lead at the top of their league, and got home by four wickets.
Woodford were dismissed for 91 (Steve Brereton 3-14, Willie Lamb 3-17) and in reply Lamb hit 33 and Dan Hill 14.
After being put in on a wet pitch at Bred-bury St Mark's, TATTENHALL had a bad start when Graham Harper, returning from holiday, was out cheaply, but this was the cue for Andy Phelan to show his class against accurate bowling from Aussie paceman Bradley.
Phelan began cautiously but then started to crash the ball around the compact ground and was finally out for an excellent 86 in the 36th over with the score on 142.
Tattenhall needed an acceleration in an attempt to gain maximum batting points and post a score which was defendable. It eventually came from new boy Robin Mulverhill, who batted intelligently and with power, ending on an unbeaten 36, allowing Tatten-hall to post a respectable 191.
A break for rain at tea left Bredbury 46 overs to chase the Tattenhall score. They got off to a slow start against accurate bowling from South African Stanton Govender and the veteran Cox. At 20-2 in the 10th over, skipper Wood came in and, although wickets were falling at the other end, he scored runs regularly to keep Bredbury up with the required run rate.
But with only 28 needed off five overs, he was out playing a rash shot to the medium-paced Govender. This gave Tattenhall a chance. Govender and the wily off-spinner Mel Dobson then bowled tightly and it was left to Dobson to bowl the f inal over with Bredbury, seven wickets down, needing 10 to win.
Thanks to good bowling and quality fielding it proved too much and Bredbury fell short by six runs.
When ALVANLEY captain Chris Fletcher won the toss at Prestbury in their Meller Braggins Cheshire League match, he wasted no time inviting the home team to bat on a very green pitch.
Opening batsman Constable benefited from a dropped catch with only six runs to his name and blasted his way to 48 with some outrageous shots in an opening part-nership of 57.
Young opening bowlers Greg Erasmus and Chris Jones were replaced by Andy Senior and Dan Riley, who immediately transformed the game. Senior took two wickets in his fourth over and went on to claim 4-19 off 12, while Riley started with six maidens and ended with 2-51 off 17 overs.
Peter Pearce helped with two wickets from his four overs as Prestbury slumped to 103-8 before number 10 batsman Murray went on the attack, hitting 51 off 29 deliveries and savaging Erasmus for 30 runs off two overs. His team declared at 170-9 off 45 overs as the first heavy downpour started.
Alvanley were disappointed that poor discipline had enabled the hosts to score 40 to 50 runs more than they should have been allowed, but their response was hindered by the big swing the conditions afforded the Prestbury bowlers and the run-out of Donohue in the second over.
Charles and Pickersgill also departed cheaply so Alvanley were struggling at 45-3 off 20 overs when rain interrupted the game for a further 40 minutes. This meant they had 75 minutes to force a result.
Andy Senior went on the offensive for a magnif icent 79, including three sixes and 13 fours - his eye for a boundary made the task more diff icult as playing time was continually lost while the Prestbury fielders retrieved the ball from hedges and fields.
When Senior was out, Alvanley were 117-7 and the instruction was to play out the remaining 20 minutes to secure a draw. Cei Sanderson, suffering from illness, was immediately bowled and this brought the bizarre sight of Prestbury's bowlers running back to their mark to squeeze in as many overs as possible.
The disastrous run-out of Mark Leadbetter brought Alvanley's f inal batsman, Chris Jones, to the crease with 11 minutes to play. Erasmus helped himself to 23 runs, but was out lbw to the last delivery of the day. Alvanley had lost by 20 runs.
Tomorrow, Alvanley host Davenham, looking to bring to an end their run of three defeats and four draws.
MALPAS clinched their fifth win from six matches when they beat Middlewich by one wicket in a tense f inish. The visitors were sent back for 109, with Bary Dent claiming 5-41 and Paul Bradley 2-11.
Malpas lost wickets steadily in reply, but helped by Mark Davies (35) and Dent (12 no), who was dropped twice behind the wicket, they got home in the 35th over.
The seconds were beaten at Port Sunlight.
CHESTER COUNTY OFFICERS' big match against Shammah Cheshire Alliance leaders Stretton was ruined by the weather at Upton.
Officers put up a good total, thanks to steady scoring down the order. Tony Collard (21) was f irst to go thanks to a fabulous catch at backward point. Tony Hattersley (24) and John Gilbody (23) advanced the cause, but it was Steve Johnson with 32 who put Chester in charge. Mike Caulf ield with 11 and Andy Barlow 13 contributed to a final total of 135-9 after a rain-reduced 38 overs.
With 32 overs to get the runs, Stretton suffered early setbacks as Steve Johnson powered in to take 3-34. Conditions deteriorated so badly that the game could not be f inished with the Stretton score on 86-5, spinners John Taliana and Richie Winn taking a wicket apiece.
Chester ended with nine points to Stretton's five, but results elsewhere saw them drop to fifth in the table, still only six points adrift.
Chester played a full-strength side in the semi-final of the Cheshire Alliance League Cup against old adversaries Parkside - and reached the final, where they will meet Castrol Tessuti at Audlem on August 17.
Tony Hattersley fought his way to a tremendous 81 not out in company with John Taliana, who notched a brilliant 64 not out off as many balls. These two put together a partnership of 129 in the last 20 overs to take the game away from Park-side with a total of 186-2.
Parkside have a fine batting line-up and Chester had to battle very hard to keep them under control. Two early wickets from Andy Barlow, thanks to a great catch from Richie Winn at mid-off and a plumb lbw against the stunned Eddie McLoughlin, gave the Off icers impetus and a stupid run-out put Parkside on the back foot at 28-3.
A good stand between Towns and Jon Knight put Parkside back in the game but Taliana then resumed his partnership with Hattersley. Having launched the competitive total, the two combined again as Taliana's left arm-spinners gripped enough to make the opportunity for four stumpings by Hattersley, added to a full-toss dismissal of dan-german Jason Knight.
Parkside batted all the way down, but skip-per Johnson returned to nip a worrying partnership in the bud and Alan Roberts needed just one ball to terminate the innings on 147 thanks to a good catch at point by Chris Wright. Taliana finished with 5-36 to complete a highly successful day
Tomorrow, CCO go to Disley, who have won their last two games.
KINGSLEY notched their third victory in a row at home to FRODSHAM, winning comfortably by eight wickets to keep their place at the top of Division Two. The game was overshadowed by the death earlier in the week of Frodsham treasurer John Sandbach, and the players observed a minute's silence before the f irst ball.
Having asked Frodsham to bat, Kingsley restricted the visitors with accurate and testing bowling, so much so that only 39 were scored from the first 30 overs.
With a few early wickets, a good total was out of Frodsham's grasp, and they finished on 86 all out, Adrian Burden taking another six wickets to boost his season's tally to 44.
Play resumed after tea during a gap in the drizzle and though further rain threatened, Kingsley comfortably reached the target for the loss of three wickets, Neil Rowlands with 36 and Kieron Ollier un-beaten on 27.
SAUGHALL'S chances of recording back-to-back victories were scuppered by rain while they were on top against promotion-chasing Liscard.
Put in on a damp track and beneath grey clouds, Saughall got off to a good start with James Huxley looking in prime form before he drove straight to cover for 37. A flurry of wickets followed, with Chris Andrews trapped lbw for seven, Martin Huxley caught behind from a good delivery for eight and Richard Tomlinson caught at cover without scoring.
When Ben Salisbury was dismissed for eight, Saughall were 73-5 and finding runs diff icult to come by against a nagging attack. Then Andy Thomas entered the fray with a six over mid-wicket in an enterprising 19 while Les Perkins looked in top form with a number of lusty blows before he played on for 42 in the dying overs.
Ian Jenkins (10) swung the bat gamely in the final few overs as Saughall managed to reach a defendable total of 144-9 off 48 overs.
When the teams met earlier in the season, Saughall were punished for not making early inroads, but that wasn't the case on Saturday as Pete Tunnicliffe and James Huxley bowled impressively with the new ball. Tunnicliffe (2-24) picked up the first two wickets, while Huxley was back in the swing of things with 1-11 in an economic seven-over spell.
At 39-3 the visitors were struggling but incessant drizzle became heavier and the captains made the decision to halt proceedings and head off to the pub, with Saughall picking up eight points to Liscard's four.