If ever there has been a title defining fixture in the ECB Premier League in recent seasons it is the return game between current leaders Chester Boughton Hall and Neston at Parkgate next Saturday.
Both clubs won again to retain the nine points status quo and current form probably favours Chester, their last six results reading WDWWWW while Neston’s run is WDDWWW. The clubs’ two September fixtures show that Chester host Grappenhall and wind-up at Oxton, while Neston go to Bowdon and finish at home to Grappenhall.
On a day of soft wickets after overnight rain, there were fewer runs scored than usual with no centuries and all six games were resolved as tension mounts at both ends of the table.
Boughton Hall won by nine wickets at Didsbury after dismissing the bottom club for 135, Nick Anderson 37, Jordan Clark 4-22, Alex Kegg 3-29. Warren Goodwin was unbeaten with 56 in Chester’s response of 137-1 inside 20 overs, becoming the first Premiership batsman to top 1,000 runs (1,045).
This is the fourth time Goodwin has topped four figures in the past five seasons, the exception being in 2012 when he managed only 506 due to injury.
Neston found it harder work to pocket full points on the ground of retiring champions Nantwich, who opted to bat first and posted 165 for seven, Ray Doyle 44, Chris Finegan 3-41. Neston responded with 166 for eight, Jack Smith 38, Luke Camden 33, Ollie Griffiths 3-40, Jimmy Warrington 3-74.
Interest now switches to the foot of the table where Macclesfield have stirred up a hornet’s nest with their third win in five, by five wickets at home to Grappenhall, whom they dismissed for 119, Jack Ward 4-55, Chris Moores 3-2. Rob Keen then top-scored with 35 in Macc’s response of 122 for five.
Meanwhile, Bowdon and Marple lost and both are now within catching distance for Macclesfield in what looks like being a lively run-in. At South Downs Road, Bowdon were bowled out by Hyde for 78, Simon Marshall 37, Dan Cranmer 6-42.
Chris Ashling’s pace (5-23) later had the Hyde batsmen on the hop and they struggled to reach 79 for seven, Tom Twiney’s 17 being the best individual contribution.
Marple lost by four wickets at home to Alderley Edge after being bowled out for 135, James Crisall 58, Mark Warnes 3-4, Jason Whittaker 3-61. With a polished innings of 69, Calum Rowe led Alderley’s winning response of 138 for six, Andy Wylie taking 4-44.
Oxton’s upsurge continued at Toft inspired by Worcestershire all-rounder Shaaiq Choudhry . He scored an unbeaten 61 and along with skipper Simon Stokes, 70 and Alex Hughes, 51, Oxton mustered a best-of-the-day 233 for six, Jimmy Lomas 3-61, Jake Dickinson 3-66.
Toft were bowled out for 156, Jake Hancock 55, Henry Hughes 41, their last seven batsmen scoring only 12 runs. Choudhry claimed 6-63 off 18 over of left arm spin.