WINSFORD'S promotion bandwagon came off the rails ever so slightly when an under-strength team faced rivals Pott Shrigley on Saturday.
The home side's opening batsmen were troubled greatly by both Mark Dean and Mike Clarke yet somehow managed to get to 41 before the first wicket fell to Clarke. With the effect of the new ball wearing off the batsmen started to take control, despite a fine spell of bowling from Chris Brandon who took 3-29 runs off eight overs. Some lusty blows towards the end brought the home side's total to 218-6.
To keep their run of wins going Winsford needed a good start, however unlike the home side, when their batsmen played a false stroke a wicket fell and Winsford soon found themselves in deep trouble at 27-4.
Acting skipper Jonathan Phillips was still there and slowly he started the fightback making 33 before he fell and Winsford were staring defeat in the eyes at 65-6. Mark Skellon and Gareth Whitney then stepped up to the plate. They added 79 runs in just over an hour when Whitney lost his wicket for 27 on 144. Chris Brandon fell soon after, allowing Mark Dean to join Skellon to see out the final four overs, Skellon's majestic 55 not out being the cornerstone to Winsford's survival.
Pott Shrigley took 14 points, Winsford, who travel to Trafford on Saturday, seven.
Winsford 2nds, with five of their junior players on duty, pulled off a remarkable four-wicket victory over Pott Shrigley 2nds to remain undefeated at fortress Knights Grange, claiming the maximum 25 points.
Winsford's opening bowlers Paul Hough (2-30) and Phil Doman (3-40) troubled all the early batsmen and removed the top 5 with the total on 80, but the middle order dug in and they made it to a challenging total of
In reply, the top four got a start before getting out, Ant Ollier (19), Graham Smout (13), Andrew Washington (22) and Andrew Cooper (19) giving Winsford a chance of victory. But the match winning innings came from 17-year-old James Dean, whose unbeaten 59 took Winsford to victory with almost seven overs and four wickets to spare.
Winsford 3rds posted 144 against Oakmere, 15-year-old Andy Washington top scoring with 51, while Chris Duckett made 75 to see Oakmere home with eight wickets to spare, Phil Jones the pick of the bowlers with 1-16.
Oakmere 135ao Marple 140-4
OAKMERE entertained an improving Marple side at Overdale Lane on Saturday - and it showed.
Skipper Paul Yearsley lost the toss and was asked to bat, and with pace from one end and spin from the other, the home side's openers scored freely for the first
seven overs, putting 44 on the board before Yearsley was bowled by a slow outswinger. At the other end ex-Cheshire spinner Andy Greasley was getting turn and bounce and making life difficult. They fell to 70-3 before Marple went on the defensive as they strangled the run rate, claiming wickets as Oakmere looked for the expansive shots.
The highlight of the home side's efforts was a patient 65 by 18-year-old Phil Nelson who batted with maturity as wickets tumbled at the other end and they finished on a below-par 135 all out.
Marple's innings started with a wicket falling in the first over, but they recovered to reach 140-4.
Weaverham 204-7 Alvanley 203-8
WEAVERHAM finally claimed their first win of the season on Saturday when, for once, the toss was won by the home team and Alvanley were asked to bat.
On another good Weaverham wicket the visitors finished on 203-8, with Rob McMillan the pick of the bowlers collecting 3-45 with his left-arm spin. Swing bowler Steve Robertson took 3-34 while Alan Bell and Jamie Allen picked up a wicket a piece.
Having regularly posted in excess of 200 in recent weeks the home side were confident they could over-haul the Alvanley total. Lucas Fraser kept his place at the top of the order and batted well for his 47 and, along with the prolific Dave Holden (37), gave the home side a solid start putting on 50 for the first wicket. Jon Lightfoot, as he often does, scored a quickfire 30 to maintain momentum and along with Rob Harrison's 21, a confidence boosting victory was achieved with a 24-point return.
Weaverham 2nds came close to gaining their second victory of the season but missed a couple of run out opportunities and eventually slumped to a narrow defeat. Skipper Paul Lightfoot, with a season's best 66, and Phil Harris (35) put on 107 for the first wicket in the Weaverham innings and Kenny Roberts (21) and Rob Dickinson (17) both made solid contributions as Weaverham posted a season's best 190-6. Roberts (3-46) rounded off a good personal day but Weaverham eventually went down by three wickets.
Stockport 2nds 224-8 Davenham 2nds 226-5
DAVENHAM 2nds were inspired to a stunning victory over Stockport by an unbeaten 111 from opening batsman Tom Screen as they romped home to 226-5.
The home side put on 224-8, and while Davenham's reply got off to the worst possible start with the first wicket falling without a run on the board, Screen's heroics saw them home.
Chelford 165-5 Northwich 163
NORTHWICH had seven first-team players unavailable on Saturday as they slumped to their first loss in nine weeks.
The visitors got off to a shocking start at 40-4, but Martyn East hit a rousing 76 and received good support from the tail allowing Northwich to post a modest total of 163.
The visitors then made inroads into the Chelford batting line-up as Nick Shaw took 4-37, leaving the match finely balanced at 102-5. But they could not press home the issue and the hosts made their target with three overs to spare.
Northwich 2nds suffered their second defeat of the season in an incredibly close game at Moss Farm. The usual tight Northwich attack was missing and Chelford took full advantage of the quality batting conditions to post an imposing 196-5, Mike Mc-Donough taking 3-30. The run chase started well thanks to Mark Phillips (39), Andrew Pickstock (31) and Mike McDonough (51). However, a middle-order collapse left the final pair of Steve Riley and Mark O'Neil to score 20 runs in four overs. They fell agonisingly short as O'Neil was bowled with two needed from the penultimate ball. nNorthwich 2nds progressed to the semi-finals of the League Knockout with a comfortable victory over local rivals Barnton.
Mark Phillips hit 62 and Glinoj Cherian 45 to set a decent target of 146-4 for Barnton to chase on their home ground. Once Jimmy Kimber had taken two early wickets the result was never in doubt as Barnton ended on 114-8. Northwich now travel to Marple for the semi-final.
Wirral 93 Barnton 94-8
BARNTON won a low-scoring thriller at Wirral. They bowled the hosts out for just 93 with Mattie Bebbington taking 5-21. But the visitors struggled in reply until Ben Wingfield struck a decisive 27 not out to see Barnton home on 94-8.
An under-strength Barnton 2nds entertained Wirral on a very hot Saturday afternoon. Wirral batted first and made good use of another excellent batting track as Barnton's bowlers toiled in the heat. The introduction of Danny Hancock (3-32) and the return of Dharmesh Manubhai (3-53) to the attack produced the goods as Barnton fought back to bowl out Wirral for 197 in the last over.
In reply, Barnton were able to score at the required rate, but lost wickets regularly to subside to 84-7. Manubhai joined Danny Hancock and the pair embarked on a remarkable eighth-wicket partner-ship which took the score to 189 and the brink of an unlikely victory. But they fell and Barnton's last pair were unable to scrape the few runs required, Wirral winning by just two runs with 10 balls to spare.