NORTHWICH celebrated their third successive win on Saturday and sit atop the Cheshire Alliance First Division table.
They comprehensively beat a poor Aston team at Moss Farm, where the pitch was in fine condition despite the overnight rain. A slightly slower outfield was the only noticeable effect.
Northwich were asked to bat and their innings was anchored by Mark Phillips (74). He had support from John O'Sullivan (39) to lift Northwich to 148-4 and provide the base for a final onslaught. Mark Wrench (17no) guided the tail to maximum batting points and set a competitive target of 183-8.
Aston failed to get after the opening bowling spell of Ant Shaw and Matt Lightburn. And, at 3-2 after seven overs, they already appeared to be settling for a draw. However, their batting line-up simply was not good enough against the variety of the Northwich attack.
A mini revival took them to 36-2 before the introduction of Mark O'Neil finally proved decisive. Together with Ant Shaw (3-33), he ripped through the Aston middle order, taking 4-4 in five overs with his deceptively gentle medium pace. Shaw also chipped in with an outstanding piece of fielding to run out Aston's over-seas batsman and it was left to Lee Evans to wrap up the win with 16 overs in hand, the visitors 60 all out.
Northwich 2nds also won for a third successive time. They beat Kingsley, 95ao, by three wickets to remain top of Division A.
The accuracy of the Northwich bowlers and the slow outfield kept the runs down, but it was Nick Shaw who again produced the decisive figures. He took 4-23 with support from Mike McDonough, who claimed 3-14 on his return after missing the entire of last season.
Because of the conditions, the run chase was not easy.
Useful contributions from John Cartwright, Dean Kendrick and Scott Hayes provided the setting for Ashley Sefton to take command of the situation and achieve the total with an aggressive 21 not out, in Northwich's 98-7.
Northwich 3rds made a belated start to their season and were beaten by 125 runs at Grange 2nds.
The home side scored 232-2, Northwich 107ao (Mark Plant 52, Mike Edison 35)
Juniors: Northwich U15s got their first win but by default as opponents Warrington did not show up!
Northwich U13s 71 (Chris Yearsley 30 ret) Warrington 72-3. nEarly Meller Braggins Cheshire League leaders OAKMERE came down to earth with a squelch.
After two wins, they tasted defeat at home to Prestbury.
They were put in on a damp wicket and all the top-order batting failed as only 19 from Paul Hutchinson, 30 from Craig Phelan and 22no from Nick Porter facilitated a recovery from 42-6 to 122-8.
Prestbury's batsmen struggled early on but had a matchwinner in Andrew Wright (59no). He survived a huge shout for caught behind before he had scored.
Peter Hutchinson took 2-29 and there was a wicket each for Andy Beswick, Andy Norton and Phelan as Prestbury scored 124-6.
There was better news on Sunday for Oakmere, who won their National Village Knockout tie at Compstall by 58 runs.
A repeat of Saturday's game looked likely at 30-3, but Paul Guilford (51) and Pheland (69) put on 127 for the fourth wicket. Oakmere closed on 174-9 in 40 overs and, after tea, while Norton (2-5), Peter Hutchinson (2-33) and Phelan (3-33) took the wickets and dismissed Compstall for 116.
WEAVERHAM followed their win and draw with a defeat.
They disappointed after dismissing Malpas for 97 thanks to Alan Bell (3-17 off 11 overs), Rob McMillan (1-18), Jon Lightfoot (2-9) and Colin Lewis (3-29).
Weaverham were comfortable at 56-2 (Steve Pinnington 33) but then fell to 71-7. Lewis and Bell fought a rearguard action but Weaverham fell short at just 88ao.
BARNTON 2nds completed a match for the first time and conjured up a thrilling draw with Lymm OP 2nds, with all results possible going to the last over.
Steve Crawford scored 38 and Simon Hancock 49. Then Paul Sant (47no) and John Bebbington (18no) added the required acceleration to reach maximum batting points and a final 173-3.
Lymm's reply got off to a brisk start, but they were pegged back by a fine Dave Ollier spell taking 2-24 from 10 overs. Ajith Hettiarachchi took 3-37 to leave the game in the balance, only for Lymm to level the scores with eight down as the overs ran out.
THE new Barnton-Northwich Over 40s team marked their County League debut with a win at Broomsedge on Wednesday. Weaverham's Phil Harris top-scored with 29 of the home side's 87-8. Brooklands scored 67-8 (John Bebbington 2-7).
OTHER games involving Mid Cheshire teams at the weekend were postponed.