PREMIER Division champions Oulton Park kept new leaders Chester Boughton Hall within their sights after another glittering batting performance at Little Budworth on Saturday.

Only five points separate Chester from Oulton in fifth place in what is fast developing into an absorbing race.

Toft made plenty of runs on the perfect Oulton track as Guy Emmett (3-88), Robin Taylor (2-87) and Ben Gough (1-11) struggled to restrict them to 256-7 declared.

The Oulton batsmen were even more dominant, especially Danny Leech (92) and skipper Nathan Dumelow (69no). Jonny Kettle (38) helped get things started and Chris Bassano (22no) helped finish it at 258-3.

BOUGHTON HALL moved to the summit thanks to a 25-run victory away to basement boys Bramhall.

Steve Ogilby's men posted 181, Shane Jones leading the scoring with 40 as Jim Gillson and David Atkin both hit 34. Bramhall were bowled out for 156 (Simon Wilkinson 43no) thanks to the keen three-pronged attack of Warren Goodwin (3-15), Roger Smith (3-20) and all-rounder Atkin (3-51).

It was Bramhall's seventh defeat in a row.

CHRISTLETON skipper Matt Parkinson admitted that his club's need for points forced them to adopt a negative approach in their draw at Urmston, who batted first and set a massive 297-8 declared.

Aussie Ben O'Brian (101) and former Glamorgan and Yorkshire batsman Ismael Dawood (84) did most of the damage, seeing Urmston past the 200 mark before wickets began to fall. Darron Cruikshank was the main beneficiary, picking up 4-75 from 15 overs.

Christleton felt the target was achievable but openers Dave Graham (16) and Cruikshank (27) fell relatively cheaply and then the middle order failed to make any significant progress, with only Mo Siddique (17), Russ Crowley (20) and Paul Eastwood (28) getting started.

As the overs ran out, there was little option but to play the game out for a draw, so Dave Swift and Gaz Jacobs saw off the last 10 overs.

Skipper Parkinson said: 'It was the first time we have played negative cricket in the last five years but we decided that the two points might end up being very important come the end of the season.'

NESTON picked up an impressive away win, knocking Hyde off the summit.

Stan Clifford's revitalised team recovered from a disastrous 65-5 to declare on 242-7, thanks to a seventh-wicket stand of 111 between 17-year-old Birkenhead School pupil David Hurst with his maiden senior century (110) and wicket-keeper Andy Roberts (53no).

Hyde also pulled themselves together from an even worse start of 55-6, but were bowled out for 211 after a seventh-wicket stand worth 145 between Cheshire left-hander James Duffy (116) and Danny Berry (56).

Neston's match-winner proved to be paceman Chris Finnegan with a fine 5-48 return.

TATTENHALL'S disappointing form in Division Two continued as they lost at home to Hale Barns.

Winning the toss and choosing to bat, Tattenhall were reduced to 85-8 through a combination of freakish fortune, poor shot selection and good pressure from the bowling side (Saddington 3-12). The tail showed some fight, Mel Dobson (36no) and Roy Sandford helping set a total of 143 all out after 54.2 overs.

Tattenhall began their effort in the field brightly, Trinidadian Damian Lewis bowling excellently with meagre reward for his fine efforts.

Some tight pressure by Gary Forster and Dobson (2-24) got the visitors twitching for a short time, but Simon Fletcher's 78 ensured that they went to 144-3 in relative comfort.