Saturday afternoon showers at Moss Lane left Alderley Edge First XI with an uphill struggle to force a win against visitors Oulton Park in the Cheshire County Premier League.
After the start of the game had been delayed by morning rain, Oulton Park captain Martyn East won the toss and elected to bat first but was soon back in the pavilion, dismissed by Tom Foreman to leave the visitors on 9-1.
Danny Leech and number 3 Matt Jamieson added 55 for the second wicket to steer the away side out of their early trouble before both were dismissed amid tight spells in the middle overs from Ed Foster (1-55) and in particular Stephen Parry (2-28), both completing their full 17 over allocation as Oulton Park reached 78-3 at the mid-way point in the first innings, Jamieson departing for a well made 55.
The second half of the visitor's innings was dominated by 57 from Nick Ward, combining in a partnership of 60 for the fifth wicket with Callum Begg. Number 6 Begg completed a quickfire 30 from 33 balls to finish the innings on an upward curve, Oulton Park closing on 192-6 in using their full allocation of 55 overs.
With Oulton Park batting their full allocation of overs and the earlier rain taking time out of the game Alderley were left with 36 overs to chase the 193 needed in the second innings. Alderley made a good start in their chase reaching 49 before losing Calum Rowe for 24.
Fellow opener Sam Perry remained the mainstay of the innings sharing in partnerships of 43 with Ed Fluck (22) and 29 with George Bell who hit 30 from number 5, but a crucial spell of 4-73 from Harry Newton removed all 3 Alderley batsmen and with overs ticking down Alderley were left 33 runs short of their target for the loss of 6 wickets. The resulting draw gave Alderley 7 points from the contest to Oulton Park's 10.
In the Second XI encounter at Pinfold Lane a young Alderley team pushed the title chasing Oulton Park team all the way in a tight game which the home side edged by one wicket. Oulton Park won the toss and elected to bowl first on a greenish pitch and immediately had the visitors in trouble at 55-5 with 22 from opener Blair Campbell providing the bulk of Alderley's runs.
A rearguard innings of 33 from 24 balls from skipper Jon Usher at number 7 helped lift the visitors past the 100 mark before becoming Andy Hards' 5th victim, the seamer collecting 5-33 for Oulton Park. 17 from number 9 Dan Fesmer helped push the visitor's total up to 118 all out from 37 overs with a brisk spell of 3-3 from Richard Smith clearing up the Alderley tail.
A wicket in each of his first 3 overs from Fesmer set up Alderley's fightback as the hosts fell to 17-3 in the early stages of their reply. With 8 maidens and only 14 runs conceded in his 15 over spell, Andrew Windle kept a stranglehold on scoring from the other end as Alderley continued to put pressure on the hosts. In taking two wickets to boot, Windle helped reduce Oulton Park to 74-7 with Alderley sniffing a shock victory.
Oulton Park's number 6 George Moss withheld the Alderley onslaught to score 49 before being the ninth wicket to fall with 8 runs still needed for victory. The final pair of Hards and Smith held their nerve and, surviving a number of close umpire decisions, added the remaining runs to take the win. George Valentine took 2-40 and Harry Elms 2-30 in a good all round performance with the ball by the visitors.
On Sunday, Alderley's Third XI took the better of a draw with Marple at Moss Lane. Electing to field first, Marple had an early success in removing opener Ben Chapman to leave Alderley at 17-1. 89 from number three Joey Chong set the hosts up to record another big score, Chong departing with Alderley on 158-4. From there Ashray Bhamidipati struck an unbeaten 61 from 51 balls to allow the home side to declare their innings on 228-5 after 37 overs.
Opener Will Darby's 83 gave Marple hopes of completing an unlikely chase in the second innings but with Alderley's attack regularly taking wickets to slow their progress Darby became the 7th wicket to fall with the score on 178. From there on Marple's 9 and 10 pair of Daniel Cox and Sam Saxelby were able to bat out the remaining overs to secure a slice of the points but without ever troubling the additional 49 runs needed for victory.
Ben Chapman led the way with the ball for the home side collecting 2-10 from 10 overs with George and Will Valentine each picking up two wickets in support. Alderley took 14 points from the fixture to consolidate their position of second in the table.
Match report by Andrew Windle.