ALVANLEY clinched promotion on Saturday – a full three weeks before the season ends – but the hard work has not finished yet for Andy Bennion’s men.
Two targets remain: winning the Division One championship and preserving their unbeaten league record in 2011.
Alvanley, whose promotion was secured at the weekend courtesy of an exciting home victory over Ashley, are aiming to end a 22-year wait for a league title.
With three games to go, second-placed Davenham are the only side with a realistic chance of stopping them from finishing top.
Skipper Bennion said: “There is a real hunger to stave off Davenham’s challenge.”
Alvanley’s ground has been passed fit for County League cricket – meaning their promotion is effectively assured – but Davenham’s square was deemed sub-standard, so they will remain in the Meller Braggins League, even if they finish in the top two.
Club officials are seeking to appeal the County League committee ruling.
In Saturday’s match against Ashley, Alvanley chose to bat first on a saturated wicket.
Glenn Pickersgill’s supreme 46 was invaluable, and the same can be said of a last-wicket partnership between Chris Fletcher and James Palliser which took Alvanley from 124-9 to 149-9 at the close.
In Ashley’s reply, the draw began to loom as the overs ticked by. But Robin Fisher (6-22), Lee Ainsworth 3-29 and Chris Charles 1-22 stepped up to the mark to prise out Ashley for 88.
Elsewhere in Division One, OAKMERE’S match at Prestbury was abandoned due to rain.
The same fate befell the KINGSLEY v Barnton clash in Division Two and also CHOLMONDELEY’S home meeting with Lindow.
But there were no such problems for lowly BARROW (138-7), who drew at Winsford (171-6dec).
In Division Three, CHESTER COUNTY OFFICERS are still top and on course for promotion despite a one-wicket home loss to Chelford.
Chester opted to bat first, dipping to 60-3 before Chris Wright (23) and Mike Jones (47no) grafted away for a tidy partnership.
The hosts finished on 179-8 – securing maximum batting points – but Chelford made a flying start to their reply with former Pakistan international Mahboob (38) playing aggressively.
Indian star Srivastava (67no) then took over and Chelford claimed the win at 181-8, their number 11 hitting the winning runs. Ian Rule took 3-27.
Chester’s second-placed promotion rivals BUNBURY (183-8) defeated Stretton (182-8dec).