CHRISTLETON'S chase for a league and cup double gathered pace last weekend as they notched up back-to-back victories.
Their dream of playing at Lord's is still alive after thumping Stainsby Hall in Derbyshire to reach the quarter-finals of the National Village KO.
Against some exaggerated new-ball movement, the visitors did well to maintain a healthy scoring rate early on after being put in, with Jim Gillson (29), Guy Newell (31) and Chris Hollindale (24) taking the score to 105-2 after 25 overs.
But wickets began to fall as batsmen looked to increase the run rate and it was only a hard-hitting knock from Nick O'Con-nell that kept the momentum going. He smashed five sixes in his unbeaten 54 and, with help from Russ Crowley and Matt Parkinson down the order, propelled the total up to a solid 225-8 from 40 overs.
Gillson had quite a weekend, ending up in Ilkeston General Hospital for a check-up having been hit on the head. Fortunately, no harm was done and he was back in time to cheer his team in the second innings.
Stainsby Hall instantly found runs hard to come by - Alex Barr's seven-over spell conceding only nine runs and, uncharacteristically opening the bowling, Newell soon benefited by picking up two wickets.
The hosts fought hard and looked in a good position while White was at the wicket. For Christleton, it was the introduction of Ben Briscoe that finally swung the game in their favour. He dismissed White for a belligerent 47 and continued to make inroads during his eight overs.
By no means was it the slick, polished fielding performance of the previous round, but good catching proved vital, supporting Briscoe to excellent final figures of 5-30. And with Barr, Newell (3-45) and Parkinson all picking up wickets at the other end, the hosts soon fell to 161ao.
Christleton will now host the winners of the Midlands area championship decider between Plumtree and Exhall & Wixford.
Christleton beat Urmston by three wickets in their league match on Saturday, Simon Ratcliffe (75), Gillson (53) and Maroof Khan (24) their top scorers after Urmston had posted 204-7.
The seconds (147-4) beat Bollington (146-4).
Nantwich, last season's runners-up in the Premier Division, are more concerned with relegation this season and Chester Boughton Hall compounded their problems with an eight-wickets defeat on Saturday.
The South Cheshire side elected to bat first on a true wicket which was always going to offer the bowlers some assistance.
Dave Atkin and Kegg did well first up, but despite some close calls were unable to break through. At 48 without loss, Nantwich looked dangerous. Bowling changes were tried but it was a fine run-out from Eddie Roberts which broke the deadlock.
This proved to be a catalyst. With one end open, Rob Fisher was gaining big, if slow, turn and spin-twin Dave Shewring also looked the part. Warren Goodwin took the next two wickets, however, as Kegg rang the changes. His 2-10 were testament to good pace and accuracy.
Backed up by sharp work from Steve Ogilby and his slips, the spinners took hold of the game and in the blink of an eye Nantwich were eating their tea. Their total of 106ao was thanks to 4-32 from Fisher and 3-19 from Shewring.
This was always going to be a tricky target against the brilliant Barrington Brown, but Goodwin was up to the task. He lost Bull early to Brown, but he batted imperiously. It was a great surprise to see him on his way for 36 and at 50-2 the nerves were jangling.
Ogilby and Andy Bennion weathered the storm for 10 overs and gradually began to impose themselves. Ogilby (40no) counterattacked to great effect while Bennion (20no) dropped anchor and with 25 overs to spare, the players walked off in dim light with 25 points and third place in their pocket.
Chester travel to bottom club Poynton tomorrow.
The seconds continued their tradition of high scores and tight finishes at Nantwich, but they failed by 20 runs. Nantwich scored 265-1 and in reply George Robinson hit 53, Sam Chpman 55 and Dan Riley 22.
The thirds were frustrated by an un-adventurous display from visitors Timperley who hung on for a draw. Chester posted 239-4 with skipper Brown hitting 67, Callum Rigby 40 and Gareth Hughes 27.
Rigby claimed 5-50 as Timperley reached 115-8.
Oulton Park retained top spot with a fine win in a rain-affected match at Alderley Edge, scoring 112 off only 68 balls.
The hosts reached 77-2 before an aggressive spell by Jason Whittaker (5-36) changed the game as Alderley Edge collapsed to 99-8. After a long break for rain, John Davies (2-9) completed the innings.
With rain all around, big-hitters Liam Buchanan (47) and Davies (22) put on 77 for the first wicket with some ferocious batting. When the rain returned after only 10 overs, Park were 94-3 and after a frustrating two-hour delay, it was now or never. Paul Berry lashed 13 in his first over and as the rain returned he crashed a boundary to seal victory.
Park seconds needed only 18 overs to retain their lead in the division. Stockport Georgians were bowled out for 163, 15-year-old spin twins Ben Kettle (5-45) and Jimmy Guest (4-39) doing the damage.
George Guy (75no) and Roger Thompson (70no) led Park to victory.
Tattenhall beat strugglers Irby with one wicket and one over to spare in Division Two. Tattenhall's opening attack of Chris Fowell and Simon Carruthers bowled well on a difficult pitch, restricting the scoring to around three runs an over.
But some poor fielding allowed Irby to reach 179-7 declared from their 50 overs. This was about 25 runs more than should have been reached.
Tattenhall's innings started poorly with opener Dawson going in the second over. Hope and Ahmed then led the recovery, looking comfortable on a wearing pitch.
Hope was then caught at deep fine leg, mistiming a pull shot. Subsequent batsmen all contributed but were dismissed just when they started to look comfortable, putting pressure on incoming batsmen.
Robin Mulvihill hit a much-needed 35, but the game went to the penultimate over after Carruthers was dismissed, hitting nine runs from three balls.
This brought Fowell to the crease, supported by Mel Dobson. Fowell, looking ashen-faced walking to the crease, had obviously been watching Dobson's cover drives (14no).
After scrambling a single to allow Dobson to face the last over, he had to face three balls from Irby's medium-pace Australian, Gell, who unleashed a cover drive which raced to the boundary, giving a relieved Tattenhall victory.