BOUGHTON Hall's second team had more than just pride to play for at Bowdon after their poor batting of the previous week.
The title is still in sight and every point is important. To their credit, they produced a good performance, a creditable draw and 16 good points.
Stand-in skipper Jonty Hedge-coe led from the front after Chester had been put in on a wet track. His 68 off just 45 balls bristled with shots of sheer quality, including 14 fours.
Only loss of concentration after a rain break led to his downfall, by which time Hedge-coe and his opening partner Phil Thomas had already scored more between them than the whole team did against Timperley.
Thomas then quietly guided the rest of the batting to finish on 66no, aided by a smooth 47 from Brett Balac as Chester finished on 213-5 off 48 overs.
Bowdon were never in the hunt. Jamie Ducker (2-16) posed problems with his ability to swing the ball while 17-year-old Grant Goodwin's pace and bounce would have given him even more reward than 3-47 but for missed chances.
David Shewring (1-14) provided high-quality left-arm spin, but Bowdon captain Tony Dawson was obdurate and guided his team to a draw at 139-7.
Chester thirds had to take first use of a damp wicket at home to Timperley. Only skipper Doug Ramsay with 31 and Simon Law (16) made a decent score as Chester fell for 105.
Timperley were reduced to 60-6 but later batsmen combined luck and big hitting to take their side to a three-wicket victory.
Chester fourths were skittled for 32 at Warrington, who won in six overs. nChester County Officers seconds justified their decision to bat first against Aston on a greenish-looking wicket with some aggressive batting from the very start, scoring 45 from the first nine overs before an excellent Phil Deeming (4-60) delivery nipped back to bowl Chester skipper Holland (30).
Fellow opener Declan Hickey then began to rediscover his early-season form and the runs continued to flow.
Gareth Roberts (42) joined Hickey and the pair shared a superb stand of 152. By the 32nd over, Hickey was in full flow, bringing up an excellent century with a huge six over some trees on the mid-wicket boundary, and Chester were already past the 200 mark. Dan O'Neil (2-31) then made the most of some light rain falling on the pitch to remove both batsmen and, after a break, Chester declared on 244-6.
Chester's opening bowlers Paul Hickey (0-20) and Mikey Barrow (2-14) applied immediate pressure to Aston's batsmen, and were unlucky not to do further damage. The dangerous Aston middle order was then kept under wraps by some full-length
bowling from 'Dangerous' Dave Thompson (1-41), who clean bowled O'Neil (20) just as he looked about to open his arms and the wily Alan Roberts (2-32) who removed dangermen Bedson (22) and Phil Hall (16).
Mixing his bowling around in an attempt to win the game, skipper Holland (2-23) weighed in with a brace before spinner Chris Wright (1-6) provided wicket-keeper Colin Owen with his second catch of the day. However, the rain reduction to the day's play proved decisive as Aston held on for a draw in gathering gloom, on 150-9.
Christleton faced Tattenhall with seven changes. Tattenhall batted first and after being dropped on nought, M Roberts went on to make 63. Jimmy Dathan took 2-17 with skipper Brain Wareing taking 3-41. Scott Hodges bowled well as he picked up 2-28 and Richard Morgan-Jones also took a wicket to come away with 1-25 as the visitors made 158.
Morgan-Jones soon had his pads on as he went out to open the batting with Mike Hollindale. The pair got the innings off to a solid start, putting on 59 before Morgan-Jones was dismissed for 24 and Hollindale for 25.
This triggered a mid-innings collapse as Christleton went from 59-0 to 80-5. Gary Davies and Wareing brought some solidity to the chase and put on 52 before Davies was out for 32. However, another collapse occurred and going into the last over, Christleton were on 150-9. They batted the last few balls out and came away with a draw.
Christleton thirds enjoyed a fine victory over Bramhall Thirds at Little Heath. The hosts made 288-3dec in 45 overs, Willy Lamb (161) and Dave Swift (48) doing most of the damage. Bramhall fell for 110 to tie up a 25-pointer.
Alvanley faced Alderley Park and their openers weathered the early storm for the loss of just one wicket as Farmer and Faria went about building a gigantic partnership of 171. Farmer's 110 came off just 110 balls with some cracking cut shots, and Faria's 72 included two towering sixes. A brief stoppage for rain meant Alvanley declared after 42 overs on 226-3.
Park reached 65-1 when rain ended proceedings after 16.1 overs. Youngster Chris Charles took the only wicket. nRain ruined Oulton Park's match at Brooklands.
Brooklands made 244-6dec (Craig Williams 4-56) and Park were on 180-5 (Jonny Kettle 68, Mark Johnson 50no) when the weather intervened. nMalpas seconds failed to complete a club double as they lost at Barrow seconds.
Having been bowled out for 134 (Alex Hargreaves 47), the visitors saw Barrow reach a winning 135-6. Teenager Phil Rowlandson (3-43) was Malpas' best bowler.