Saturday` proved a good day for the clubs in the bottom half of the Cheshire Premier League, especially Bowdon, who won a thriller by two runs to end league leader Neston's unbeaten run at Parkgate.
Neston had reached 112 for five in reply to Bowdon’s all out 143, (Paul Stimson 5-56) before suffering a dramatic collapse and with top scorers Luke Camden, 55 and David Hurst, 33, both gone they lost their last five wickets for 29 runs to close on 141.
Their destroyer was former Glamorgan paceman Chris Ashling with match-winning figures of 6-43.
As a consequence, Bowdon move out of the drop zone, a position now occupied by Didsbury who lost by three wickets to form team Oxton, who have now won four of their last five matches.
Didsbury totalled 167 for nine, Simon Normanton 78, Gayan Fernando 3-48 and Oxton countered with 169 for seven, Alex Money 41, Marc Debrabender 40, Rab Nawaz 3-36.
Chester Boughton Hall recovered from their defeat by Neston a week earlier with an impressive seven wickets victory at Grappenhall where they had lost a T20 game in mid-week.
Grappers were bowled out for 190, Mike Sambell 56, the increasingly impressive Jack Williams taking 5-39. CBH countered with 191 for three, Lee Dixon 57 not out, Matthew Griffiths 56.
With a week to go the halfway stage, Chester have cut the advantage of the leaders to just seven points, following Neston’s slow over rate points deduction.
One of the highlights of Oxton’s fund-raiser against a Lashings International XI on Friday was a gesture by home club member Jason Holland who won a £1,000 auction for the privilege of facing the first ball of the innings bowled by his former West Indies hero Courtney Walsh.
The taker of 519 Test match wickets, Courtney sent down a lip-smacking full toss. Unfortunately, Jason missed it, then retired chastened, poorer, but still cheerful to the pavilion to thunderous applause from a large crowd.
Another team in the bottom half to shine on Saturday was Marple who outplayed champions Nantwich at Whitehouse Lane to the tune of 160 runs.
Marple ran up 245 for nine with Mark Bennett contributing 92 and Andrew Hall 59, while Ray Doyle took 4-65 and Ollie Griffiths 4-67.
The Dabbers batting then collapsed completely against the guile of Andy Greasley, 5-36 and the pace of Andy Wylie, 4-32 to close on 85 all out, their lowest tally in many years.
Hyde, who began the day in seventh place, moved up two slots with a comprehensive six wickets victory at Toft, whom they sent back for 204, Ed Stubbs 73 not out, Scott Kirwin 3-45.
Hyde responded with 205 for four inside 44 overs with their powerful batting line-up of Chris Tipper contributing 57, Tom Twiney 56 and Danny Berry 53.
Erratic Alderley Edge had one of their better days, using home advantage to beat Macclesfield by 68 runs in a match dominated by the all-round excellence of Jason Whittaker.
With a contribution of 44 not out, he assisted Jon Steele, 52 to post a respectable 203 for six, Ben Morrison 3-56. Whittaker’s real show came after tea when he stormed through the Macc batting line-up to post figures of 19.2 – 2 – 38 – 7.
Only number 9 batsman James Cross, 32 not out, showed much opposition as the innings closed 68 runs short at 135.
Macclesfield remain the only team in the top two divisions without a win and currently trail 10th placed club Bowdon by an ominous 33 points.