Anthony Axford Bolton League: Egerton home in as Little Lever stumble
LITTLE Lever’s title prospects suffered a setback when they got bogged down on a slow Piggott Park wicket on Sunday.
Starting the day 15 points clear of the field, the long-time leaders suffered only their fourth defeat of the season by seven runs to Farnworth Social Circle in a low-scoring encounter that could prove pivotal in the battle for the championship.
For while Simon Anderton’s side were coming unstuck, second-placed Egerton, who just a few weeks ago were resigned to playing for a Lancashire Knockout place, were beating Greenmount by 22 runs at Blackburn Road.
That cut the deficit to just nine points and with five games to play, the scene is set for a potentially dramatic end to the season.
Little Lever must have thought they were on a winner when they bowled out Social Circle for just 109 in 45.3 overs, Curtis Anderton taking 5-30 and professional Kamran Younis 4-53.
But they struggled for runs just as badly as the home side had done and, although having overs to spare, they eventually felt short in the face of a decisive spell of bowling from Dave Mather, who took 6-50 in 20.3 overs – clinching victory when he had Josh Gent caught by David Tonge.
Egerton, meanwhile, had Amal Dalugoda to thank for their victory over a Greenmount side that has struggled for consistency this season.
Defending a rather modest 145-7, of which Stuart Hornby hit 42 and Dec Dudley 33, they picked up a couple of early wickets but Asif Zakir was looking menacing until Dalugoda took charge, taking 6-45 as Greenmount were bowled out for 123 in the 47th over.
Farnworth’s hopes of retaining the title were dealt what could be a decisive blow when they lost by nine wickets to a confident young Westhoughton side, who replaced them in third place.
Chris Baxendale hit 75 and professional Adil Nisar 41 in a 96-run partnership as Farnworth posted an impressive-looking 190-6 from their 35 overs, Westhoughton pro Qaiser Abbas and Paul Hart taking three wickets apiece.
But their bowlers toiled as Abbas (82) and Atiq Uz-Zaman (86 not out) took charge, putting on 183 for the opening partnership before Westhoughton reached their target for the loss of just one wicket.
Elsewhere, Bradshaw improved their chances of a Lancs KO place with a 12-run victory at bottom-of-the-table Eagley, where a century partnership between Nick Lester (60) and Gary Garner (51) took them from 49-4 to 150-5 on their way to 176-7.
Eagley gave it a go with openers Mike Ward (29) and Paul Rayment (27) putting on 51 for the first wicket. But with Bradshaw pro Saaed Anwar Jnr taking 4-61, they were always behind the required rate and their innings closed on 164-9.
Walkden had a comfortable 98-run win at Heaton, thanks in no small part to Rafa Afridy (77) and Ryan Ayres, who hit an unbeaten 55 off 29 balls to hoist them to 220-6 from their 48 overs. Charlie Dorsey then took 4-59 as Heaton were bowled out for 122.
Horwich enjoyed a 27-run victory over Kearsley at the Recreation Ground where Dave Morris (67), Joe Settle (36) and Adam Street (26no) helped them to 221-8 – a target that proved too hot for the visitors, despite Naseem Hamed (70no) and Devon Conway (45) getting at the home bowlers, who eventually got the better of things with Street (4-72), Liam Bones (3-65) and David White (2-38) bowling them out for 194.
Rick Northrop’s unbeaten 75 was key to Astley Bridge’s home win against Tonge.
Bridge’s 211-5 proved out of Tonge’s reach, despite the threat of pro Ali Azmat (53) and Mohammed Ali (31) they fell 31 runs short, Syd de Silva (4-74) and Yashir Rashid (3-29) doing the damage.