CHESHIRE have laid the perfect platform to win the Western Division after an impressive 125-run victory over Oxfordshire in their three-day clash at Nantwich.
The win gave Cheshire 23 points and if they win their last match, against Wales at Chester Boughton Hall (August 21-23), the Western Division title could be won.
Andy Hall's team had reduced the visitors to 178-5 overnight chasing a challenging target of 365 for victory at Whitehouse Lane.
But despite seeing their hosts grind their way to 230-6, Cheshire dug deep to clinch the last four wickets they needed for victory at the expense of just 10 runs.
Dave Pennett, the former Nottinghamshire pace ace, led the way with 5-45 from 19.4 overs, while seamer Jason Whittaker (2-32), former England and Lancashire leg-spinning all-rounder Chris Schofield (2-24) and left-arm spinner Robin Fisher (1-16) were also in the wickets.
Pennett was the pick of the bowlers and finished with match figures of 10-116 following his 5-71 return in the first innings, while Whittaker also played a key role with match figures of 6-104.
The J W Lees Cheshire side also starred with the bat, former Derbyshire all-rounder Nathan Dumelow (107 & 44) and skipper Hall (106) with centuries to their name, while debutant Nick Cantello made a spirited 82, enhancing his claims for a place in the county's final match.
'That was a great victory for us,' said a delighted Hall.
'We bowled excellently in both innings, especially Dave Pennett. Dave was fantastic and got key wickets for us.
'It was also nice to see Nick Cantello get runs on his debut and myself and Nathan both scored centuries.
'We needed to win this game to put pressure on Berkshire ahead of the last game of the season.
'All we can do now is win against Wales and hope Berkshire slip up. We've got a great chance of winning the title this year.'
Cheshire's chairman of cricket Gerry Hardstaff and Hall have a few selection headaches ahead of the Wales encounter, with opening batsman Danny Leech expected to be available and Chester Boughton Hall's promising youngster Warren Goodwin, who starred on debut, also in line for a recall having missed this match.