Stafford overcame a batting wobble to hit the summit on the seventh weekend of action in the 2003 North Staffs and South Cheshire League Championship Division One A season. CHRIS TRAVERS reports…
STAFFORD went to the top of Championship Division One A after squeezing home by one wicket in the last over at Elworth.
Despite setting a modest target of 159, the home side fancied their chances after reducing Stafford to 134-9, only to be foiled for the second week running by a last-wicket stand.
Stafford had been 100-1, but Elworth’s Matt Buckley and Paul Crompton claimed 4-36 and 4-44 respectively to cause a few nerves.
However, Lee Farrington (25no) and Jamie Mansfield (7no) saw Stafford past the post.
Pete Owen (40) and Rob Kyle (33) had earlier put Stafford on course, before Elworth’s dramatic comeback threw up a thrilling finale.
Elworth had been indebted to Saffraz Hussain (35) for their total of 158 all out, an innings which featured 3-22 from Farrington and Mansfield’s 3-36.
Previous leaders Cheadle were thwarted by a late rally on their visit to Haslington.
Andrew Shaw’s 58 formed the backbone of Cheadle’s 170-8, with the wickets being shared by Dave Capewell (4-42) and Andre Percival (4-48).
Percival struck 32 in reply, but Haslington were in deep trouble on 70-8 after Chris Barker’s haul of 4-24.
But they managed to avoid defeat as a fine rearguard action saw them close on 100-8.
Stone moved into second spot by inflicting Knypersley’s first defeat of the season.
Asif Mahmood top-scored with 55 as Knypersley reached 158 all out. Steve Dawson (5-40) and Mo Hussain (4-50) did the damage with the ball.
And the home side strengthened their position as Stone stumbled to 50-5 after tea – thanks to a hat-trick from Rob James, who dismissed Andy Palmer, Shaun Jenkinson and Chris Banks.
James eventually finished with figures of 5-35, but there were no further alarms for Stone as Hussain’s 63 not out and an unbeaten 44 from captain Adrian Butters guided them to a five-wicket triumph.
Kidsgrove’s Sohail Rauf was in devastating form with the bat to set up his side’s victory at Crewe.
Rauf needed just 74 minutes to make 118 not out to lead Kidsgrove to a formidable 246-3 declared. Grant Goodwin chipped in with 60, while Mike Holt took two of the wickets to fall.
Nick Bentley responded with 43, but Crewe’s line-up couldn’t handle Gareth Rowe and Colin Wilkinson.
Rowe finished with 6-34 and Wilkinson claimed 3-18 as Crewe were bowled out for 130.
Burslem’s Chris Lowndes was also on the ton trail in their victory at Norton.
Set 205 to win, Lowndes plundered an unbeaten 127 to wrap up an eight-wicket success.
Norton skipper Greg Willott (57no) and Qasim Haleem (47) had earlier shone with the bat in their 204-8 – but Lowndes had the final say.
Bignall End defeated Sneyd by five wickets.
Sneyd were restricted to 95 all out after Shah Mahmood (5-24) and John Harrison (3-54) made merry with the ball.
Sneyd made a game of it, but Nigel Nixon’s 29 was a key contribution to Bignall End’s winning cause.
Leycett had the better of their draw at Rode Park & Lawton.
Half-centuries from Inam Ul Haq (63), Mo Chaudry (61) and Mohammad Ali (55) powered Leycett to 221-6 declared.
Dave Wellings struck 49 at the top of the Rode Park & Lawton chase, but their victory hopes were extinguished by Richard White’s 5-18.
But they did manage to hang on for a draw as they closed on 173-9.