Alderley Edge 1st XI's Cheshire County Premier League title challenge took a hit on Saturday with defeat to Marple who began the day one place above the relegation zone. Winning the toss, skipper Charlie Reid elected to bowl first on a green pitch at Bowden Lane with the cautious approach from Marple's openers taking them to 45 before the loss of captain Jim Morgan for 21.
Richard Wilkinson struck twice in successive balls on two occasions to pull the rug out from underneath Marple's middle order, first reducing the hosts to 51-3 and then to 67-5 in claiming 4-28 for Alderley. At 79-6 the visitors had eyes on setting a double figured total to chase in the second innings but Marple's lower middle order rallied with number 8 Max Fitzgerald striking 28 from 32 balls and number 7 Mike Schofield hitting 22 not out and marshalling the tail well to help Marple up to a total of 133 before being bowled out in the 48th over, Reid claiming 3-14 in the closing overs and Tom Foreman taking 2-32 in support.
In reply, Alderley's start was rocked in the early stages with their top three removed with just 18 on the board. Ed Fluck and Adam Worrall went some way to repairing the damage with a partnership of 34 before Fluck was dismissed for 27. A further 3 wickets were then lost for the addition of just 9 runs as Jack Grundy's spell of 3-23 decimated Alderley's middle order leaving the visitors on 71-7.
Alderley's number 7 George Bell batted watchfully to make 19 from 42 balls before becoming the first of 3 wickets for Joe Cash on 99-8. Cash then claimed the wickets of Foreman and Jake Hill to close out Alderley's innings in the 41st over with the visitors 13 short of their victory target with Reid, batting at number 9, stranded on 16 not out. Cash claimed 3-2 from his 4.3 overs with Andy Wylie excellent in bowling his full compliment of 17 overs including 9 maidens in taking 3-23.
The loss was a double blow given Alderley missed an opportunity to close the gap on table toppers Chester Boughton Hall who also lost on Saturday. Alderley retained second place in the league but now sit 30 points adrift of the leaders with 8 games remaining.
At Moss Lane the Second XI fixture was also played in bowler friendly conditions making for an exciting finish but ultimately another defeat for Alderley. Winning the toss Marple skipper Andrew Wild elected to bowl first and was richly rewarded with Alderley reduced to 15-5 in an extraordinary first 12 overs of play with Ed Saxleby claiming 2 and Joel Greasley 3 wickets from excellent opening spells.
Number 5 Simon Pickering and Number 8 Andrew Windle set about repairing the damage, playing cautiously initially before beginning to counter-attack in putting on 92 for the 7th wicket to take the hosts past the 100 run mark. After Pickering was bowled for a well made 47 James Bateman picked up the baton, continuing to build on the momentum Alderley had generated, playing some attractive shots in a quickfire 22 adding 40 in partnership with Windle as Marple shuffled their attack looking to close out the Alderley innings. Windle finished unbeaten on 62 pushing Alderley's total up to 169-8 from their 50 overs.
In reply, Marple's opening pair added 30 for the first wicket before James Bateman struck for Alderley in bright sunshine in what were already more batsmen-friendly conditions. In a cagey middle period of the game Alderley missed a number of chances in the field to take further wickets but kept the Marple run rate in check.
Opener Sam Stretton completed his 50 before becoming one of two wickets for David Johnson whose economical bowling proved crucial in ramping up the pressure on the visiting batsmen. With the run rate climbing to 7 runs an over Alderley sniffed a chance to sneak an unlikely victory but number 3 James Crisall remained composed to hit 60 not out with number 5 Conor Ramsay hitting 27 not out to steer the visitors home with 7 wickets to spare in the game's penultimate over.
On Sunday, Alderley's Third XI fell just short of victory against league leaders Didsbury at Moss Lane. Winning the toss Didsbury chose to bat first but Alderley's attack began strongly in reducing the visitors to 72-4 following number 3 Hashir Khan's 40. 58 from captain Tom Bidwell and 37 from number 6 Andy Mashiter pushed Disbury's total to 201-9 from their 45 overs. Will Fosbrook and Katie Haszeldine led the way for Alderley with 3 wickets apiece backed up by Ben Chapman's 2-21.
Henry Stevinson (31) combined with Chapman in adding 49 for the first wicket to start Alderley's chase on a strong footing in the second innings and reached 109 before Chapman became the second wicket to fall, dismissed for 44. Number 3 Will Valentine continued to push Alderley towards their target but when he was the sixth wicket to fall for 68 on 169-6 the Didsbury bowlers began to tighten the screw, restricting scoring sufficiently to close Alderley's innings on 195-6, just 7 short of victory in a highly creditable display. Zain Bashrat, Rab Nawaz and Dave Boorman each took two wickets for the visitors who took 13 points from the draw result to Alderley's 9.
Match report by Andre Windle.