CRICKET was almost washed out by Saturday's rain, but Chester County Officers managed to play their Cheshire Building Society Cheshire Alliance derby with Ellesmere Port and won with something in hand.
After a miserable, wet morning, the sun came out in time to get under way at 2.30pm. And for the sixth time running, skipper Steve Johnson lost the toss and Chester were asked to bat.
Memories of the previous week's run glut soon faded as the bowlers found move-ment and swing to put the batsmen under pressure. Mike Clarke (3) edged to slip and Tony Hattersley (17) and Ian Barlow (14) both fell to lifters from burly paceman Steve Dorrington.
With the score a precarious 39-3 after 16 overs, Paul Owen (29) and Mike Rowlands (16) took the initiative by attacking the bowling and this was continued to the end with John Gilbody (15), Steve Johnson (21) and Andy Barlow (12no) hitting some powerful boundaries, before the innings ended prematurely after 39 overs at a rather inadequate looking 130.
Ellesmere Port were confidently anticipating victory at tea time, but the dynamic duo of Johnson and Barlow had other ideas. James Gattrell was caught behind third ball off Johnson and then Barlow struck twice, pinning Cheeseborough lbw and bowling Colin Roberts all ends up.
When Johnson trimmed the bails of Paul Isaacs, the Port were in dire straits at 10-4. Dominic Green battled on, being dropped twice at point, while Johnson accounted for Gareth Boys, beating him several times before disturbing the woodwork.
At 53-5 the opening bowlers had done a fine job, with Johnson 3-32 and Andy Barlow 2-17 both in 13 overs.
The introduction of change bowlers Adam Gewargis and Mike Clarke induced the Port batsmen on to the attack. But Stuart Daniels was sent back by a fast straight ball from Gewargis (3-14), who then snared Green (39) and Sayers, both expertly caught by Paul Owen at deep point.
Clarke (2-29) took some punishment before mopping up the innings for 98, thanks to a sharp catch by Goodall and a brilliant leg-side stumping by Hattersley .
Chester rise to fourth in the table ahead of tomorrow's trip to second-placed Stretton.
Barrow's home game against Chol -mondeley was reduced to 39 overs a side and ended in a draw. Barrow were sent in on a damp wicket and slumped to 8-3 after eight overs, but Craig Hulme and Paul Rothery built a partnership of 50 before Hulme was caught for 19.
Rothery continued to impress, dispatching any loose deliveries while wickets continued to fall at the other end. Rothery reached his 50 before being dismissed for an excellent 65, as Barrow finished on a below-par 153-9.
Cholmondeley started slowly due to some excellent bowling and fielding, restricting them to 43-1 off 20 overs.
With the introduction of the wily offspinner Chris Cowell, the Cholmondeley middle subsided as the visitors reached 131-7.
Mal Barrow bowled 12 overs for 28, Chris Cowell bowled seven overs to claim 4-33 and a mammoth spell of 20 overs by John Williams yielded 3-62.
This was a good result for Barrow, placing them in second position in Division Two of the Meller Braggins Cheshire League.
Alvanley's game at home to Burnage was disrupted by the overnight and morning rain. When it eventually got under way, it was a 70-over contest played on a different track than originally planned, resulting in a small boundary on one side.
Alvanley were put in and Glenn Pick-ersgill was the star of the show with 76, including two sixes and six fours in a total of 173-7 declared.
In reply, Burnage raced to 126-1 off 22 overs, but an inspired spell by Rowlinson gave him 5-14 from six overs to produce a last-over finish, with Burnage requiring nine runs and Alvanley needing two wickets.
It was Burnage who got there off the last ball, which meant Alvanley had suffered defeat inflicted in the final over for the sixth time this season.
Christleton, whose Cheshire County League match at Brooklands was abandoned last weekend, host Exhall and Wix-ford in the quarter-finals of the National Village Knockout on Sunday (2pm).
The visitors are having a good season and are at the top of the Cotswolds Hills League. A close encounter is anticipated and Christleton are hoping for a good turnout of support with the team now only two games from a Lord's final.
Christleton seconds clinched their fourth win in a row by beating Mobberley by seven wickets.
Oulton Park seconds (162-6) drew at Irby (150-7).