By Tom Sherratt
Checkley maintain their lead at the top, collecting maximum points with an 80 run victory against Whitmore. Winning the toss and batting first Checkley posted 173-8, captain Michael Allen top scoring with 39, while Joe Bridgewater took 4-24 for the home side. In reply Whitmore were reduced to 93 all out, Richard Cooper picking up his best figures of the season with 7-30 for Checkley. Allen’s side still sit seven points clear of Knypersley who also claimed maximum points.
Knypersley maintained the pressure on Checkley, keeping their nerve, beating Burslem by three runs. After being put into bat Knypersley got off to a poor start, but recovered from 23-4 to set Burslem 123 to win , Paul Goodwin the backbone of the batting line finishing on 53 not out, as Michael Brown took 6-49. In the second innings the game hung in the balance with Burslem on 100-8, which became 118-8, but they were dismissed for 119, as Nayyar Abbas collected his second five wicket haul of the season. The victory keeps Knypersley 10 points clear of Leek in third but still seven points adrift of Checkley.
Leek like the two teams above them won batting first, beating Hem Heath by 49 runs. Leek were reduced to 38-4 early on, but with runs in the middle order they managed to push it up to 162, as the wickets were spread around the Hem Heath bowling attack. In response Hem Heath themselves fell to 35-4, but their middle and lower order didn’t fire as well as the home side’s, being bowled out for 113.
Longton stayed in touching distance of the title chasers, with a four wicket victory as they travelled to Audley. Batting first Audley stuttered their way to 145 all out in the 45th over, Eddie Jones and Craig Barker picking up five wicket hauls for Longton. In the second innings Dave Wheeldon (41) top scored for Longton as they chased down the total after the 55 overs, putting them six points behind Leek. The defeat leaves Audley two points adrift of Wood Lane and safety.
Wood Lane were comfortably beaten at home by 92 runs against Porthill. Rao Ifthikar Anjum smashed 74 not out off 36 balls for Porthill, after Dan Hancock (53no) and John Hancock (52) both hit half centuries, as they posted 267-5. In the second innings Wood Lane were reduced to 38-3, but Jamie Jervis (52) and Samiullah (50) got to grips with the Porthill bowling attack, as the home side managed to get the full batting points before they were dismissed for 175.
Bottom of the table Elworth were heavily beaten by nine wickets as they travelled to Stone. The home side reduced Elworth to just 125, Dries Nell taking 5-35. James Dawson (56) set the platform for Stone and Luke Cheadle (73no) saw his side over the line in the 24th over. Defeat leaves Elworth 35 points behind Wood Lane and safety.
Moddershall remain top of the division despite only managing a winning draw at home against second place Meakin. The league leaders won the toss and decided to bat first, posting 206-8, Kashif Bhatti top scoring with 66. In reply Meakin got off to a poor start falling to 32-2, but Ben Mcquire (82), Andrew Whitehead (41) and Peter Wilshaw (39) stabilising the innings, closing their innings on 189-6. The draw puts Moddershall five points clear of Meakin and eight ahead of Little Stoke.
Little Stoke maintained their challenge at the top with a comfortable nine wicket away win against Barlaston. Naveed Arif (5-13) and Peter Turnbull (4-56) tore through the home side dismissing them for just 69 after 22.4 overs. Richard Adams (12no) and Turnbull (38no) then saw Little Stoke over the line in 7.5 overs.
Cheadle closed the gap on the teams above them, picking up maximum points against Meir Heath with a 106 run victory. After deciding to bat first Cheadle set the visitors 214 to win, after Adam Alcock hit 110. In the second innings James Sellers was the pick of the bowlers for Cheadle taking 5-24 from 19.2 overs, as Meir Heath were reduced to 107 all out. The win puts Cheadle 14 points off top spot in fourth, but leaves Meir Heath 16 points behind Barlaston and safety.
Down at the bottom Alsager beat Betley by five wickets. Alsager’s Gareth Rowe collected figures of 6-46 as Betley were bowled out in the 39th over for 103. In the second innings Alex Perry was the backbone of the Alsager innings finishing on 47 not out, chasing down the total in the 21st over for the loss of five wickets. Alsager now sit just two points from safety.
In mid table Silverdale travelled to Ashcombe Park, coming away with a four wicket victory. The home side were restricted to 141, while Mitchell Stokes (5-42) picked up a five wicket haul. In response Silverdale’s opener John Shenton (72) was the mainstay of the innings, successfully chasing down the target in the 39th over.
Sandyford beat Blythe at home by 24 runs. Batting first the home side were dismissed in the 55th over for 182, James Pringle top scoring with 56. In the second innings Sohail Rauf took 6-57 as Blythe were removed for 158, after recovering from 56-3.
Kidsgrove remain top despite Stafford, their second placed opposition, picking up the winning draw. Being put into bat Stafford’s Greg Massingham hit 109, finding support in Richard Brazier (75) and Dave Foster (40), as they posted 290-4. In reply Kidsgrove got off to a poor start falling to 20-2, but Chris Highfield (71no) and Sohail Zaroof (44) stabilised the innings, before they closed on 198-8. The draw puts a five point gap between the teams at the top, with Newcastle & Hartshill just two points behind the promotion places.
Newcastle & Hartshill took full advantage of the top two teams playing each other by beating Weston by seven wickets, successfully chasing down 204. Batting first Weston lost wickets at regular intervals, being reduced to 204 all out, Nasir Malik and Andrew Keates both taking four wickets for Newcastle & Hartshill. In the second innings Newcastle & Hartshill lost Chris Marsh early but Simon Wood (75no) and James Collett (63) dominated the innings, helping their side reach the target in the 45th over and putting them two points behind Stafford and a promotion spot.
Norton stayed in touch of the top three, keeping their nerve in a two run victory away at Caverswall. The away side only had Mark Graham (74) and Joel Bayley (61) get to grips with the Caverswall bowling attack, as Norton posted 187 from their 55 overs, while Nazakat Ali took 5-44. In response Caverswall couldn’t get a partnership together but with the score on 185-8 they looked to be favourites needing just three to win, however they were unable to add to their total and fell painfully short, as Norton’s Alex Graham collected figures of 5-56. The win moves fourth place Norton nine points behind Stafford in second place.
At the other end of the table, bottom side Bagnall were beaten by six wickets against Leycett. After being put into bat Bagnall were dismissed for 120, with the wickets being shared around the Leycett bowling attack. In the second innings Leycett got off to a slow start falling to 13-2, but Craig Barcroft (51no) and Dan Gibbs (22no) saw their side over the line after 30 overs. Bagnall are now 49 points behind Weston and safety.
Bignall End did their survival chances no harm with a winning draw at home against Endon. Kim Barnett (62) and Simon Howle (54) both hit half centuries for the home side, as they posted 215-8 from their 55 overs while Dan Bailey collected a five wicket haul for Endon. In reply Endon looked in trouble at 98-8, but Anthony Sheeran hit 48 not out guided his side to a draw, closing their innings on 145-9.Bignall End move within 28 points of safety.
In mid table Oulton picked up the winning draw against Rode Park & Lawton. Oulton had runs throughout the innings with Shawn Hunt top scoring with 63 as they posted 263-5. Rode Park & Lawton then clung on to a draw closing their innings on 176-9, opener Paul Chadwick hitting 50.
League leaders Eccleshall, who travelled to Wedgewood, won by a single wicket. After dismissing the home side for 131, Eccleshall found themselves 111-8, but they managed to stumble over the line in the 41st over, captain Myles Coughlan top scoring with 40. Their lead at the top was cut to 21 points after Crewe beat Leek & Moorlands batting first.
Crewe closed the gap at the top with a 45 run victory against Leek. Batting first Crewe were dismissed in the 45th over for 171, as Leek shared the wickets around the bowling attack. In the second innings George Harding (6-28) took his seventh five wicket haul of the season, reducing Leek to 126 all out. The result has mixed fortunes for the two teams; Crewe move within 21 points of Eccleshall, whereas Leek are left 14 points above the drop zone.
Woore stayed in touch of the top two beating Church Eaton by 134 runs. Andrew Burton hit 104 and John Collins finished on 90 as Woore declared on 261-5 after 45.4 overs. In reply Church Eaton only had Chris le Maistre (55) and Andy Wood (45) to reach double figures being reduced to 127 all out. The result leaves Woore 16 points behind Crewe, and Church Eaton 20 points above the relegation zone.
At the bottom Norton-In-Hales closed the gap to the teams above them, collecting maximum points at Forsbrook, winning by 58 runs. John Woodfield hit 59 as Norton-In-Hales were restricted to 161, while Stephen Pugh took 7-44 Forsbrook. The home side then never got going with the bat falling to 103 all out in the 45th over, Jack Warrington being the pick of the bowlers with 4-31 for Norton-In-Hales, moving his side within 14 points of Leek and Safety.
Stone SP travelled to Oakamoor, coming away with a 10 run victory. Batting first Stone were reduced to 243 all out, Richard Whitehead (77) and Neil Podmore (61no) being the main run scorers. In the second innings victory could have gone either way until Oakamoor were finally dismissed for 233, Tom Sherratt (55) and James Smith (51) both hitting half centuries for the home side.
Fenton comfortably beat Hanford by eight wickets. John Seabridge (5-45) and Stephen Atkinson (4-44) took the majority of the wickets as Hanford fell from 85-1 to 120 all out. Phil Hall (63no) and Seabridge (31no) saw Fenton over the line in the 31st over for the loss of two wickets.