OULTON Park were roundly beaten by defending champions Bowdon at Little Budworth on Saturday.
In particular, they could not match the outstanding individual performance of Lancashire allrounder Gary Yates, who has dominated the ECB Premiership this year.
He scored 108 and then took 7-27 as the leaders took another stride towards their sixth title in eight years.
Given then Yates recently made 100no and took 8-28 against Alderley Edge, Oulton were fortunate to catch him on an off day!
Despite this, Oulton made the earlier breakthrough via Jason Whittaker (4-41), but Bowdon steamed to 266-8dec with Yates the chief stoker.
With Paul Berry unavailable, Oulton did not have anyone who could cope with Yates, though Stewart Eaton (28no) almost saved the day. Andy McIlroy was adjudged lbw with three overs left, however.
Oulton 2nds 209-3 (Paul Murray 52, Simon Torlop 63) out-hit Stockport Georgians 208-8 dec.
The 3rds returned their ninth successive win: Alderley Edge 3rds 155 (Kyle McPherson 5-70, David Clarke 4-40) Oulton 156-1 (Luke Heritake 68no, George Gay 50).
* MID Cheshire's two Parks, Oulton and WINNINGTON, clash at the Rec on Sunday in the League Cup semi-finals (1pm).
Winnington skipper Mike Johns said: 'I played for Oulton for three seasons and they have some great players. We are really looking forward to the game. I know that we have the team to beat them, and I am sure that we will put up a great challenge - we want the trophy.'
Winnington were held at home by First Division bottom club Heaton Mersey, in a game vital to their promotion hopes.
Winnington got off to an excellent start. Openers James Lewis and Paul Sinclair punished any loose bowling and quickly moved the score along to 73 before Lewis was trapped lbw for an excellent 47.
As Sinclair passed his 50 runs, Craig Little made his way towards another half-century. Sinclair fired his way quickly to Park's first individual league century this season and took his side past the 180-run mark in the 42nd over. Little then went on the rampage and reached 75 before he was trapped lbw. Park then declared at 247-2, with Sinclair left on 112no, and knew that an excellent performance with the ball was needed to dismiss their opponents on such a good wicket.
Early success from Paul Allen and Stuart Hayes had Mersey at 37-3 off 18 overs, and when they failed to quicken the run rate and lost another wicket, they shut up shop. They reached 176-5, but Johns was in positive mood.
'The lads did excellently, the batting, bowling and fielding was top-class and we deserved a win out of this fixture.
'I just feel sorry for anyone watching because only one side wanted to play the game.' Mersey 2nds declared at 228-8 (Steve Johnson 4-41 off 13 overs) and opening bats Greg McKeown and 16-year-old Jonny Wales led the challenge, putting on 144 for the first wicket - McKeown was claimed lbw for 79. Wales went on to make a personal-best 66 and Eoin Welch hit 46no before Winnington collapsed to 218-9.
After the game, skipper Howard Burtwistle said the positive to come out of the clash was the excellent knock from young-Wales, who will now open for the remaining four games. Otherwise, it was like watching England bat - three good knocks and the rest a shambles!