Alderley Edge First XI emerged from a nail biter of a game with Neston on Saturday with a tie after both sides had held and lost the initiative several times over the course of the afternoon at Moss Lane.
Winning the toss, Neston captain Ash Davis decided to bat first on a cloudy and humid day. Alderley opened the bowling from one end with the spin of Charlie Reid to try and counter the threat of the big-hitting opener Will Evans which saw him dismissed for 13, followed shortly after by number three Dane Williams to leave the visitors on 35-2.
The introduction of Alderley's Lancashire man Stephen Parry removed opener Dom Smith for 34 and Michael Eckard without scoring to leave Neston in a sticky spot at 52-4 and fluency at the crease proving a problem for the majority of batsmen. Cameron Lea-Swain coped better than most scoring 43 from 78 balls combining in a 68 run partnership with Luke Camden for the fifth wicket.
Whilst the scoring rate was slow this helped to blunt the Alderley attack in the middle overs of the innings as Reid shuffled his bowlers looking for a breakthrough and the Neston batsmen rotated the strike and picked off singles in a game of cat and mouse.
Parry returned to the attack to remove first Lea-Swain and then Camden for 23 off a mammoth 103 balls with the visitors on 129-6. Neston quickly slumped to 138-8 before Davis and Craig Douglas combined to boost Neston's total in the final overs closing on 165-9 from their 55 overs. Alderley's spinners led the way for the home side with Parry returning 4-48, Reid 3-30 and Alan Day 2-18.
Alderley's reply got off to a nightmare start with Neston's opening attack of Ash Davis and Craig Douglas reducing the hosts to 13-3 amid a lively spell of bowling from Davis in particular. Number 3 Ed Foster combined with Parry to repair the early damage striking 26 from 32 balls helping Alderley to 50-4 before being bowled by Matt Stewart.
With Parry beginning to get on top of the bowling the contest swung again with Neston hitting back to dismiss him for 27 and Alan Day shortly after to leave Alderley reeling on 72-6. Number 7 Adam Worrall and youngster George Bell, batting at number 8, then combined in a 52 run partnership, both showing cool heads in playing the pace of Davis well and running smartly between the wickets to keep the scoreboard moving for the hosts.
With the pair wrestling control of the game back for Alderley, Worrall was induced into a drive and caught at mid-off for 23. Bell added a further 31 with Reid with the pair looking in control of the run chase until, with the victory total 10 runs away Bell was dismissed caught at slip for a superb 34 off 75 balls quickly followed by Reid for 20 off 43, smartly caught by Michael Eckard off his own bowling.
Final pair Jake Hill and Andrew Windle slowly chipped away at the remaining 9 runs needed for vicotory, adding to the drama in front of a packed clubhouse by surviving a couple of chances as Davis continued to shuffle his bowlers until the scores were level on 165. Davis brought the game to an end with a brutal yorker which bowled Windle without any addition to the score meaning the sides shared 16 points each from the contest, with both sides rueing opportunities to have secured the win. Davis finished with 3-39 for Neston backed up by 2-32 from Eckard and 2-17 from Matt Stewart.
In Second XI action Alderley suffered a six wicket defeat in the reverse fixture at Parkgate having lost the toss and asked to bat first. Alderley started brightly with an opening stand of 45 from openers Ashray Bhamidipati and Joey Chung. With Neston hitting back to reduce Alderley to 60-3 Chung provided the mainstay of the innings with a knock of 54 supported well by skipper Jonny Usher who hit 34 from number 5 and number 6 Simon Pickering who notched 50 to push Alderley's total past 150.
James Bateman added 24 not out in a strong showing from the lower middle order which boosted Alderley to 216-8 from their 50 overs, Matt Ayre claiming 3-36 for the hosts with the ball with Tom Egerton contributing 2-29.
In reply Neston's opening pair of Tom Norris and Matt Brookes took control of proceedings adding 110 for the first wicket with both hitting 61. David Johnson struck to claim the wicket of Brookes, caught off his own bowling, and Neston captain Chris Hackett to leave the hosts on 160-3.
A fourth wicket partnership of 45 from number 4 Matthew Strong and number 5 Tom Thorne took Neston to within a run of their target before Strong was dismissed for 30, Thorne seeing Neston home with 26 not out. Johnson finished with 2-23 for the visitors who claimed 9 points from the encounter.
Match report by Andrew Windle.