CHESTER Boughton Hall meet local rivals Christleton at Filkins Lane tomorrow as Premier Division leaders after collecting nine points from their draw at Alderley Edge last Saturday.
The game started late because of heavy morning rain and Alex Kegg won the toss and elected to field first. Taking the new ball himself, Kegg quickly removed an opener but the home team soon took charge as the bowlers struggled to find a good length.
The introduction of Dave Atkin (2-32) swung things back towards Chester as 77-1 became 80-4. Rob Fisher (3 -42) found little turn in this wicket, but good changes of pace caused the batsmen concern.
The inning ebbed and flowed as the accelerator was pressed and wickets tumbled. Clive Gie (2-47) returned at the death to pick up a couple of wickets as Alderley used their full allocation of 38 overs, closing on 156-9.
Chester's reply had to be sharp as they were allowed only 32 overs, and the wicket was becoming sticky as it dried. Warren Goodwin and Ed Roberts created a good platform, posting 42, before Goodwin swung wildly and missed.
By now, Roberts was in full flow, driving effortlessly towards his 50. Steve Ogilby upped the ante with a cameo 22, but with the wicket deteriorating all the time, run-scoring was becoming increasingly difficult.
Roberts tried one big shot too many and departed for 55. And in fading light, it was up to Andy Bennion and the middle order to go through the motions and bat out for the draw, which seemed to suit the hosts.
Chester are at home to Farnworth on Sunday in the opening round of the National KO at Filkins Lane.
Hard work on the Boughton Hall playing surface meant the second-team match against Alderley Edge was able to go ahead after a delay of only half an hour.
And after winning the toss, the visitors batted and reached 187-7 in 46 overs (Brett Balac 3-43, Dan Riley (2-67).
In reply, Phil Thomas (24) and Jonty Hedgecoe (27) took Chester to 50, but the innings began to flounder a little with the introduction of spin.
Some slow scoring, backed up by some injudicious shots left the home side on 89-8, but the steady concentration of Karl Steadman (44 not out) ensured the draw on 152- 8.
The thirds also drew at Neston (159-7) with a reply of 104-9. nChristleton settled for a draw at Hyde following a late start, bowling the hosts out for 180 in the 58th over, with Matt Parkinson claiming 4-44 from 10 overs.
The Christleton reply got off to a poor start, losing Maroof Khan for two, and wickets continued to fall steadily. They looked to be struggling at 60-6 and a draw looked a long way off.
But Gareth Jacobs top-scored with 33no, assisted by Christiano Baker with an unbeaten 16, and their 45-run part-nership steered Christleton to 127-7 at the close after 48 overs. nOulton Park's scheduled game at champions Bowdon was lost to the weather, while Neston lost by 84 runs at home to Widnes who were bowled out for 205 (Dave Collyer 4-49), before the hosts crumbled to 121ao.
Park are due at Toft tomorrow and Neston are at Poynton. nTattenhall snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Irby, despite an heroic effort from skipper Gary Forster, who claimed eight wickets on his birthday.
On an overcast day, with a dry track and sodden outfield, Irby won the toss and surprisingly batted first.
This proved initially to be a poor decision with the home side at 41-4 after 20 overs, with Forster taking all the wickets.
A little recovery from their middle-order batsmen allowed the home side to reach 125ao after 54 overs, with Forster finishing with 8-61 off 26.1 overs, ably assisted by a much-improved fielding performance featuring some smart catches.
Tattenhall were confident of knocking off the required runs at slightly less than three an over.
The innings started slowly but surely, with the openers Danny Ahmed and John Hope taking the score to 49 before Ahmed top-edged a short ball.
Sensible batting would still have got Tattenhall home for 25 points. But as has happened in the past against the same side, many batsmen took the wrong shot options which resulted in a collapse to 105ao with two overs remaining.
Tattenhall entertain Burnage tomorrow.