By Tom Sherratt
League leaders Leek slipped up against Stone, losing by 21 runs, but their lead is extended to 33 points as Knypersley beat Wood Lane, leap frogging them into second place. Leek reduced Stone to 22-4, but David Womble rebuilt the innings with support from Liam Hickey (41) and Matt Coxon (27), before they were dismissed for 160, Leek captain Greg Willott picking up his sixth five wicket haul of the season returning figures of 5-49. In reply Leek’s batting never got going with only Rob Haydon (46) in the top order getting to grips with the Stone bowling attack as they slumped to 109-8. Late runs from Brian Mellor (37no) pushed Leek up to 139, Russell Ballard the pick of the bowlers with 4-43.
Knypersley moved into second place, 33 points behind Leek as they jump Wood Lane beating them by 105 runs. After Dan Ball (61) and Paul Goodwin (43no) helped Knypersley set the home side 198 to win; it was down to the bowlers and Kevin Cockerton didn’t disappoint. In a 10 over spell Cockerton took 6-10 as Wood Lane fell from 58-3 to 92 all out, as their title hopes took a huge blow sitting three points behind Knypersley in third.
Longton couldn’t take full advantage of Leek’s slip up, only managing to get a winning draw when they travelled to Checkley. Michael Longmore hit 96 not out for Longton as they posted 192-4 from their 55 overs. The away side then picked up wickets at regular intervals, but Checkley captain Andy Carr (53no), stabilised the innings, finding support in Nick Hubble (35) and then Richard Cooper (14no) as Checkley closed their innings on 156-8. Longton championship hopes are drifting away, now sitting 38 points behind Leek.
Porthill Park also missed the chance to close up on Leek, as they were beaten by bottom of the table Cheadle. Porthill sat 40 points behind Leek at the start of the day, but this extended to 42 with a 52 run defeat, Cheadle keeping their slim hopes of survival going. Cheadle won the toss and batted first, but no one scored heavily, Dave Wheeldon top scoring with 29 as they posted 175-9. In reply Porthill got off to a positive start but they fell from 93-2 to 123 all out, Cheadle captain Simon Plant (4-24) and Chris Barker (3-23) did the damage at the end with ball. The gap between Plant’s side and Little Stoke and safety remains at 54 points after they beat fellow strugglers Burslem by 20 runs.
Gareth Morris (53) and Hassan Raza (43) helped Little Stoke post 139-7, Sam Waterhouse and Michael Brown both taking three wickets for Burslem. They then slumped to 119 all out in the 53rd over, Morris returning figurers of 6-40. Little Stoke moved 20 points clear of their opponents and the relegation zone.
In the battle in mid table Audley came out victors, beating Hem Heath by 30 runs. Atta Ur Rehman hit 40 for Audley as his side posted 165, Fida Hussain claiming figures of 5-20. In reply Hem Heath had no one score heavily for them and they were dismissed for 135.
Elworth secured promotion to the top division but failed to record their twelfth win of the season, when they were beaten by third place Sandyford by three wickets. Rob Beech (58no) was the only Elworth batsmen to get to grips with the Sandyford bowling attack as they were dismissed for 117. Andrew Barnett was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-55. In reply Sandyford were at 25-3 when captain Jonathon Barnett came to the crease and tried to settle the situation down for his team, but they kept losing wickets at regular intervals; Barnett saw his side over the line with 46 not out. Elworth secured promotion despite the defeat and if they beat Moddershall next week the title is wrapped up, with second place Whitmore 58 points behind who were defeated by Blythe.
Whitmore won the toss and decided to bat, but wickets fell at regular intervals, Dean Pritchard top scoring with 40 as they were restricted to 134, Blythe captain Peter Finch the pick of the bowlers with 4-46. In reply Dan Hammond (52no) and Asif Hussain (41) were the only batsmen to reach double figures for Blythe as they reached the total with three wickets remaining. Whitmore are 19 points clear of Sandyford.
Silverdale hopes of promotion are over after another defeat and have only won one game in the last four games, poor results coming at the wrong time of the season. They were beaten by 14 runs against Betley, whose survival hopes are still alive. Darren Snape (44) helped his Betley side post 178-6. In reply Silverdale fell to 136-8, but they fought their way to 164-8, but they didn’t add another run, Snape being the pick of the bowlers with 4-48. Betley sit 64 points adrift of Moddershall and safety with three games remaining.
Barlaston gained the winning draw against relegation rivals Leycett. Ben Grange hit 74 for Barlaston, which included an opening stand of 95 with Jack Davies (36) as they posted 168. Tas Hussain and Richard Walker both picked up five wicket hauls for Leycett. In reply it was all about holding on for Leycett as they closed their innings on 94-7 from 56 overs. Barlaston move level on points with Moddershall who are one place above the relegation zone and two points behind Leycett, who have only won one game in their last 13 games.
In the other game between two relegation threatened sides, Meir Heath gained the winning draw against Moddershall. Meir Heath set the away side 166 to win and Moddershall only managed to reach 159-8 from 55 overs. That leaves Meir Heath eight points clear of Moddershall and Barlaston.
Meakin beat Norton by nine runs as late runs kept them in the game. Meakin batted first and were reduced to 82-8, but runs from Qasim Sheikh (61no) and Mathew Redican (55) pushed the total to 181-9. In reply Norton got off a poor start and fell to 41-3, Alex Graham (51) and Joel Bayley (45) restored the innings but they fell nine runs short. Norton are now three points above Barlaston and the relegation zone.
Newcastle & Hartshill secured promotion into division one in an entertaining game, travelling to second place Ashcombe beating them by two wickets. It looked to be sewn up after the first innings when they dismissed the home side for 51, Andrew Keates taking 7-15, but they made a poor start in reply and fell to 5-4. Simon Wood helped them rebuild, but when they lost their eighth wicket with the score on 42 the game was in the balance, but Keates (7no) and Sathpath Kelum (6no) saw their side over the line. Ashcombe are eight points clear of Alsager in third place.
Alsager beat Bignall End by three wickets as they moved into a strong position in the promotion hunt. Kim Barnett hit 79 not out for Bignall End as they set the home side 192 to win. Alsager had runs throughout the innings, Sean Price top scoring with 46 and Gareth Rowe (44no) seeing them over the line in the 56th over.
At the bottom of the league Oulton moved closer to safety after they beat bottom side Rode Park & Lawton by 39 runs. Shaun Hunt hit 46 for Oulton as they were dismissed for 133, Jim Johnson returning figures of 4-19 for Rode Park. In the second innings Dries Nell claimed figures of 6-33; which included a hat trick and Tom Spruce (4-21) as they dismantled the Rode Park batting line up reducing them to 94 all out. Rode Park are now 23 points behind Oulton and safety, who are 13 points clear of Woore and the relegation zone.
Aparajit Singh Khurana destroyed the Woore batting line up to keep them in the botton two. Khurana took figures of 8-45 as Woore were dismissed for 100. In reply it took Stafford 32.5 over to reach the target with five wickets remaining.
Kidsgrove got a much needed four wicket victory against Caverswall and are now 16 points clear of the drop zone. Jeandre Ludick and Anthony Dutton both hit 43 for Caverswall as they set the home side 170 to win. Kidsgrove had runs all the way through the batting line up as they chased down the total after 52 overs.
Weston ended all worries of relegation beating Ecchleshall by 133 runs. Michael Alexander smashed 57 as Weston posted 228-8. Chris Barnett then returned figures of 4-19 as Eccleshall were dismissed for 95, who are only 16 points above the relegation zone.
Dan Bailey moved Endon within 15 points of leaders Bagnall when they gained a winning draw at home against the leaders. Bailey came in with his team struggling on 85-8 and smashed an unbeaten 108 off 78 balls which included seven sixes, to move his side onto 225-9. Asif Raza was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 5-48. In reply Bagnall closed their innings on 183-7 from their 55 overs. Bagnall are now 15 points ahead of second place Endon and 25 points clear of third place Wedgewood.
Wedgewood lost for the second week running, defeated by one wicket against Oakamoor. Wedgewood got off to a poor start, Eddie Brookes (8-36) being the main destroyer and they were reduced to 93-9, but captain Adrian Lello hit 19 not out at the end to push the total up to 118. In reply Oakamoor got off to a sound start with an opening partnership of 58, but lost wickets from then on in, but held their nerve to cross the line with one wicket in hand. Oakamoor have faint hopes of promotion and are 17 points behind Wedgewood.
Crewe also moved within 17 points of third place Wedgewood with victory over Norton-In-Hales. Bernie Bishop hit 45 as his Crewe side set the Cheshire outfit 115 to win. In reply Norton-In-Hales never got to grip with Shahid Mahoob who finished with figures of 8-47, as they were all out for 94.
At the foot of the table Moddershall A stayed a live with a 54 run victory against Forsbrook. Matthew Cope hit 109 as he guided his side to post 209-9, Shazad Liaqat was the pick of the bowlers with 5-61. Forsbrook never really got the innings moving and were dismissed for 155, despite late runs from Richard Mitchell (37no). Moddershall stay 18 points behind Fenton and safety.
With Moddershall winning Fenton got a much needed 9 run win against Stone SP. Chris Mellor hit 54 and was supported by Paul Farmer (35) as Fenton recorded 227-7. George Hawbrook smashed 70 off 65 balls in reply and Michael Perry hit 49, but Stone only managed to reach 218, Ashley Kent and Eddie Plant both took three wickets for Fenton.
Hanford moved away from the drop zone with a comfortable win against Church Eaton. Hanford captain Mike Coxon (5-48) got his seventh five wicket haul of the season, helping his team dismiss away side for 108. Roger Davies (55no) and Andrew Pickerill (50no) then knocked off the target without their side losing a wicket. Hanford are now 36 points clear of Moddershall A.