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Nantwich triumph with title hat-trick

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Nantwich completed a richly-deserved hat-trick of Chapel Press Cheshire ECB Premier League championships on a momentous final day at Toft.

They chalked up their eighth victory in nine completed games since the season’s halfway mark and finished 12 points clear of Hyde, who also won their final game, at Marple.

Receiving the trophy from League chairman David Humpage after the close of play, Nantwich skipper Andy Newton told a large crowd: “It has been a wonderful run-in for us to win this trophy a third time. We have done it in a different way, with some different players, but it’s been just as satisfying”.

Amid rumours that he intends to stand down rather than try to top the hat-trick records of Bowdon (2002-03-04) and Oulton Park (2005-6-7), the Dabbers’ popular skipper said he planned to go on holiday to Portugal to contemplate.

His team looked in trouble when they were reduced to 70 for six, Jonny Kettle 26, by Toft’s young spinners, but a chancy 29 – the top innings of the day - by paceman Jimmy Warrington and Sam Hunt’s useful 21 helped them limp to 126. For Toft, Jimmy Lomas claimed 6-82 and Rob Jones 3-25.

On a poor wicket shorn of all grass and with crumbling dust, Toft were reduced to 7 for five by Nantwich’s pacemen.

England junior Jones, 28 and Ed Stubbs, 21, put up mature resistance, but were eventually were no match for the varied attack of Chris Connolly, who wound up with 5-27, left-arm spinner Ollie Griffiths, 2-9 off 12 accurate overs and the league’s top wicker-taker Warrington, 2-15 as they fell to 80 all out.

In a direct spin-off from this game, the four bowling points Toft collected resulted in the relegation of Urmston who beat Oxton by 103 runs to finish with the same number of points as Toft, but with one fewer win.

Lewis Jackson and Samit Panda both scored 61 in Urmston’s 249 for nine, Gayan Fernando 5-60. Off-the-boil Oxton were then bowled out for 146, Adam Syddall 6-72 and Matt Parkinson 4-24.

Didsbury escaped the drop in a remarkable finish to their home game against Alderley Edge who scored 187 batting first, Callum Rowe 77, Jonny Fawcett 4-35.

After a cracking knock of 79 from South African Johan van Schalkwyck, Didsbury’s reply looked like ending in defeat before heroic last pair Callum McKay (five not out from 17 balls) and Andy Windle (seven not out from 24 balls) stood firm in a last wicket stand to level the scores at 187 for nine, and earn 18 crucial tie points and safety.

The other relegated team are Widnes who take the wooden spoon after a 98 runs defeat at home to Chester.

Boughton Hall posted the day’s top score of 280 for five, Kumar Sarna 98 not out, Steve Ogilby 53, to which Widnes replied with 182, Andy Ford 48, Sam Agarwal 43, Alex Kegg 4-42. Teenage spinner Jack Williams took 2-93 and topped 50 wickets for the first time.

Hyde clinched runners-up honours with a hard-earned two wickets win at Marple where not many visiting teams succeed. They bowled Marple out for 136, tail-end batsman Steve Worrall top-scoring with 30, Tom Young 4-34, Scott Kirwin 4-44.

Hyde replied with 139 for eight, Chris Tipper contributing a key 46 against Matt Shelton, 3-16 and Joe Cash, 3-32.

Often so unlucky with the rain in their bid to win the premiership for the first time, Hyde have become the Nearly Men, also finishing runners-up in the RedInsure T20 and Cheshire Cup finals. Their turn will surely come.

Macclesfield skipper Barney Cutbill ended his 1st XI career in a blaze of glory with a match-winning performance of 7-59 to end a bad run and defeat Neston by 14 runs at Victoria Road.

Rob Porter top-scored with 41 in Macc’s 165, spinner Paul Stimson taking 6-38 off 19 accurate overs.

Apart from Luke Camden, 30 and bowler Chris Finegan, 29 not out, the Neston batting again failed and they were all out for 151, Cutbill being given good support by Ian Tate, 3-31.

Said Cutbill: “It’s true: I’m finishing in the 1st XI and shall play less cricket. I have enjoyed every minute of my time in the Premier League and hope I have helped to encourage a really good team spirit. I wish my successor well”.