CREWE hover dangerously above the Division One drop zone after a disappointing draw at home to rock-bottom Norton, on Saturday.
With just one win all season the visitors looked there for the taking, but draw-specialists Crewe only managed their seventh tie of the campaign, earning six points to Norton's eight.
Crewe batted first and started briskly, with Nick Lange and Mark Hurst putting on 50 within 10 overs. The first wicket to fall, at 74, was Mark Hurst (16), who had sustained a leg injury.
Mark Spencer (31) joined Lange and helped take the score on to 95, before Lange was out for 62. Tom Gower came in and did the most damage, putting on an entertaining knock of 81. Crewe declared on 232-7.
Jo Boyle deputised for the hurt Hurst as wicket keeper, and opening bowlers Ranadeb Bose and Lange soon had Norton in trouble at 12-2.
This brought together B Butt (39) and professional Ian Reynolds, and they took the score to 63.
Reynolds (40) was out to the bowling of Gower and an excellent catch in the slips from Richard Marsh.
Bose took another two wickets to reduce Norton to 124-6, but Crewe were thwarted by a fine stand of 79 between Greg Willott (69) and Derek Reynolds (25 not out), as they battled to finish on 208-7.
Crewe visit Cheadle on Saturday, before entertaining Bollington in the Cheshire Plate on Sunday (2pm).
Also in Division One, Elworth made a positive start to the second half of the season by thrashing Kidsgrove at home.
Professional Murray Ranger (112) hit his first century for the club and a seven-wicket haul by skipper Jim Higgins ensured victory.
Elworth batted first and, despite losing an early wicket, made the most of a good pitch. Ranger pushed the total to 115 with Rob Beech (34) before a flurry of wickets left the Foxes in a spot of bother at 131-6.
Tarek Alam joined Ranger as he zeroed in on his century, and notched his first 50 for the club before Higgins called time at 245-7.
Bowling first, Higgins removed opener Jason Jinks (0) and when Alam stumped Raj Kumar (26) Kidsgrove were 32-2.
Higgins removed two more wickets with just 40 on the board before Scott Elliott joined in the fun to dispatch Tas Hussain and Pete Brooks.
Higgins got his fifth with only 54 on the board. Ben Maguire and Wayne Downing rallied briefly, putting on 40 for the eighth wicket. Kidsgrove were 105 all out when Higgins got Maguire (34) and Chris High-field (0) to return 7-36.
Betley slumped to defeat at Rode Park, who batted first and posted 243-7(dec). In reply, Artif Zaidi (37) and Adrian Butler (49) made inroads but their side were skittled for 189.
In Division Two, Weston held on for a draw against local rivals Haslington at Clay Lane. The hosts batted first, but did not get going until Mo Ali and Lee Morris put on 39 for the fourth wicket.
Morris (13) was out lbw leaving Haslington 96-4, and Ali (42) was removed soon after.
Dave Moreton and Tom Blackwood steadied the ship with an excellent part-nership of 62 before Moreton (18) was out lbw.
Blackwood was eventually out bowled by Jonty Minshull for a superb 51 as Haslington were all out for 206.
Weston's reply got off to a nightmare start when Martin Young was bowled by Sohail Tanvir's first ball. Weston pro Saad Wasim and Adie Evans managed to put on a partnership of 28 before Evans (6) was out caught by Moreton off Ali (5-36).
Wickets fell at regular intervals and Weston were reeling at 132-8 when rain interrupted, claiming six overs. Asad Khan (30) was bowled by Tanvir after the restart, but Weston held on at 132-9. nSecond team scores - Division One: Norton 246-6(dec) (R Hamilton 101) Crewe 186-9 (B Bishop 62); Kidsgrove 211-7 (D Oldfield 3-70) Elworth 207-1dec (Kev Ballard 67 not out, Chris Regan 62, Ross Kesteven 58). Division Two: Weston 216 all out (G Gennison 95, A young 38) Haslington 170ao (D France 82).