CASTROL fell to their second successive defeat on Saturday but results elsewhere meant their Division Three title prospects did not suffer too big a dent.
Losses for championship rivals Chester County Officers and Northwich spelled good news for the Oilmen, who still top the table despite falling 73 runs short of their victory target at home to Stretton.
Castrol skipper Mark Evans lost the toss and the hosts were given the unwanted task of bowling first in sweltering conditions.
Inroads were made early as Martin Flanagan (2-47) reduced Stretton to 12-2. A third wicket followed thanks to Damian Walters (1-30), but then an 88-run partnership frustrated Castrol.
Steve Aldcroft (4-48) and Mike Caulfield (0-25) were introduced to try to put the brakes on the accelerating run rate and they had a degree of success as Stretton made their way to 202-8 off 45 overs.
In reply, Castrol's batting frailties once again let them down and they dipped to deep trouble at 53-5.
Caulfield (25) came to the crease and set about repairing the damage with man-ofthe-match Paul Benbow (42), the pair putting on a quick 46 to give the Oilmen hope.
After Caulfield's departure, Steve Jones (9), Keith Garratt (9) and Steve Aldcroft (3) tried to salvage something from the wreckage but Castrol were eventually all out for 129.
Skipper Evans, whose team was depleted by players unavailable due to work and holiday commitment, said: 'Having players missing is a problem, but there's not a lot we can do about it. The batters who are there need to put a higher cost on their wicket. Paul batted really well and came back from a disappointing spell with the ball earlier on. But we bowled poorly as a unit and gave away too many four balls.'
Castrol are now looking forward to two away matches.
They take on Cholmondeley in the Meller Braggins Twenty20 Cup tomorrow (6.30pm), and Lindow in the league on Saturday (2pm).
* Castrol Under 15s were beaten at Tattenhall after posting 97-7 from 25 overs (Eager 21, Middleton 15).
Tattenhall took 20.2 overs to reach a winning 98-3 (Finlay 1-7).