MIDDLEWICH took another stride nearer the County League with a superb victory over fourth-placed Mere at Haddon Field.
And they also hope to retain the Quinn Foden Cheshire Shield after reaching the final with another assured display.
In the league, skipper Gavin Tomlinson (5-19) began their destruction immediately after Mere chose to bat, by tempting his opposite number Chris Ekstein to sky his first delivery which was well held by Chris Ainley.
From there on, the home side retained a stranglehold on the game as their bowlers toiled manfully in the oppressive conditions in a magnificent combined effort.
Nick Lea, who took two wickets, and Tomlinson demonstrated the value of spin on a good batting wicket and Mere were dismissed for 88.
In reply, the Middlewich batsmen suffered little discomfort other than the heat in knocking off the required runs. Openers David Parry (42no) and David Bates (39) put on 85 in 20 overs before Bates was adjudged lbw with just four runs needed. Middlewich scored 90-1.
On Sunday, Ashton-on-Mersey could muster only 124-9 against Tomlinson (3-21), Stuart Price (2-30) and Ben Cagna (2-11).
Rain delayed the start and cut the game to 35 overs. It also persuaded Middlewich to put Ashton in and they kept them to a reasonable target. David Parry (44) and Ainley (22) led the batting in Middlewich's 125-6.
* OAKMERE remain deep in relegation trouble after losing at home to Runcorn, one of the teams just above them.
The bowlers did well to keep Run-corn to 184-7, especially as Phil Nelson had to leave the field injured and Oakmere fielded with 10 men. Paul Hutchinson took a catch and had respectable figures of 4-44.
When Oakmere batted, skipper Paul Yearsley hit the very first ball for six, but things went rapidly downhill, with all the top-order batting failing yet again. After his effort with the ball, Hutchinson made 26, and a lengthy rearguard action followed as Oak-mere tried to hold on for the draw, but last man Andy Norton was adjudged lbw off the very last ball to give Runcorn victory by 64 runs, Oakmere 120 all out.
Oakmere 2nds 199-9 (Ian Morgan 86, Mike Cushion 49) beat Lindow 115ao (Chris Nelson 4-37, Nick Talbot-Butler 4-33, John Crouchley 2-27).
* WEAVERHAM kept up the pressure on Middlewich with a five-wicket win at Prestbury.
Star bowler Rob McMillan (7-52) put them in a winning position. Prestbury were all out for 179 in 44 overs and skipper Jon Lightfoot (2-30) did his bit also, though he was displeased with the standard of Weaverham's fielding.
In the batting department, Jamie Allen 93no was the matchwinner.
Allen is enjoying his best season so far having scored over 500 runs in the league at an average of 51.
Barry Crellin (25), McMillan (25) and Guy Groves (23) helped net the points, Weaverham scoring 184-5 after tottering on 27-3.
Anthony Mainwaring (4-75) Henryk Kazmierczak (3-36), John Astles (3-21), Phil Harris (27), Anthony Mainwairing (4-75 off 18 overs), Henryk Kazmierczak (3-36), John Astles (3-21and 28),
Richard Goodier (31) and Phil Harris (27) were the main contributors in the 2nds' losing draw: Sandbach 170ao Weaverham 159-7.
* DAVENHAM were unable to make enough runs at either 1st or 2nd XI level.
Hale Barns scored 216-8 (Dave Ashley 3-46, Andy Floyd 2-49) and Ashley (68) set the batting standard. Only Alan Wright (31) and Ben Gough (22) offered support, however, and Davenham were all out for 174. The opening pair were sent back with only nine runs on the board.
In the 2nds, Ben Jones scored 60 and took 3-31, Andy Cwiklinski 37 and Steve Warburton returned 2-54, but Davenham 161ao fell to Bowdon Vale 162-7.
* WINSFORD'S relegation worries in Division Two got no easier at Old Parkonians.
Stand-in skipper Gareth Whitney opted to field and regretted it. The only thing to rise faster than the temperature was the Parkonians' score.
Mark Dean (3-59 off 13 overs) lasted best as Parkonians scored 213-5, and the home duly bowled out a jaded Winsford for 137, Dave Potts scoring 24. Match sponsor was the Prostate Cancer Support Group.
Winsford 2nds 93-6 beat Old Parkonians 2nds 89ao at Knight's Grange thanks to fine fielding and the bowling of Kev Fitzpatrick (4-30), James Tierney (3-26) and Chris Webb (2-4).
Jon Kettle Jnr had various partners on his way to 41.
*BARNTON, 93-2, maintained their Third Division promotion push with a nine-wicket win at Port Sunlight, bowled out for 92.
Dharmesh Manbhai (5-16) ripped out the Sunlight top order in the 2nds' clash, paving the way for victory after Barnton had been dismissed for 151 (Keith Noden 54, James Smith 31). Kevin Tilley took 2-15, John Bebbington 2-7 and Darren Falland 1-9 as Sunlight fell