ELLESMERE Port may still be casting about for their best form, but they have restored some team unity despite a losing draw on Saturday.
But for a “streaky” innings, they would have picked up an important win at home against Holmes Chapel in Cheshire Alliance Division Two.
Batting first Chapel were 70-4 and staring down the barrel of a below-par innings of around 120-130.
But Atef came to the crease and combined a lot of luck with a carefree batting performance to turn the game around for the visitors.
His unbeaten 89, interrupted by rain, helped propel Chapel to 202 at tea , leaving Gareth Boys’ Port side with a difficult challenge.
But after a public dressing down from skipper Boys a few weeks ago, Port have responded well and they went into their innings positively.
Openers Paul Ashley and James Gattrell did their job in seeing off the opening bowlers for 10 overs and when they departed, the upper order made decent contributions.
But when Boys joined Stuart Daniels at the crease Port were running out of overs, having scored slowly up to that point.
They needed 100 runs from the last 10 overs and Boys looked good for it, scoring 16 form four balls before coming unstuck at the boundary.
As the required run-rate crept up to 15 an over, Port still attacked, but eventually closed on 136-8.
“We could have and should have won but we just couldn’t get their fella out,” said Boys. “He was streaky but that is cricket.
“There is a positive feel around the club again. The openers did what I have been asking of them and we have seen the green shoots of recovery.
“There are 11 games left and if we can beat league leaders Frodsham on Saturday, and I believe we can, we can aim for a top four finish.”