BOLTON ASSOCIATION: Atherton on brink as de Zoyza piles on runs
ATHERTON suffered a shock defeat yet moved within a whisker of the title on Sunday.
The long-time leaders’ setback at Elton opened the way for Flixton to close the gap, but the Manchester men could not capitalise as they were well beaten by Walshaw.
In the event, Atherton’s six bonus points to Flixton’s zero means they only need four points from their last two games to win the title for only the third time in their history.
The hero of the day, however, was Tushendra de Zoysa who won the local derby with Adlington virtually single-handedly.
The Blackrod ace stepped up his already prolific form with a magnificent unbeaten 146 of his side’s 197-8. And he was dropped on five. It was his third successive century and took his recent tally to 691 runs in his last seven innings.
He was then devastating and economical with the ball when he took 6-35 off 21 overs as Adlington were limited to 137.
Majid Majeed took 5-83 and Simon Trim scored 32 for Adlington who remain third, while Blackrod are still second bottom despite winning four of their last five games.
Atherton could have been forgiven for thinking they had their game won when they got Elton out for 117.
But they collapsed to 97 in their reply with Jamar Griffith their lone star with 7-69 – taking his wicket tally for the season to 101 which is the highest in the league – and then scoring 41.
Mark Goddard was Elton’s standout performer with 38 and 5-37 while Chris Read took 3-30 and teenager Oli Norris stepped up from the second team and impressed with 2-28.
From being a potentially damaging day it turned out to be a good one for Atherton as they extended their lead from 17 to 23 points with two games left.
With 13 for a win and plenty of bonus points available for a defeat it will take a huge shock for them not to win their first title since 1990.
Nick Murphy led the way for fourth-placed Walshaw with an unbeaten 62 and Jack McClung scored 53 as they posted 241-6 before Brandon Williams took his second four-wicket haul of the weekend with 4-12 off four overs, and Danny Hornby took 4-82 off 19 as Flixton were all out for 158.
Edgworth, Bury and Standish are all within a point of each other and fighting for a Lancashire Knockout spot.
Standish were the only one of those to win on Sunday, beating Edgworth in double quick time.
Captain Sam Heeley took 5-14 off 12 overs and Niall Burke 5-26 as they got Edgworth out for 43 in 25 overs before passing the target in 10.2 overs for their second speedy win of the weekend.
Daisy Hill looked to be heading for their second disappointing defeat of the weekend when they were 72-6 at home to Bury.
But Steven Kenny (42) and Steve Chilton (22) steered them to 165, Simon Belston taking 6-59. In reply, Kobus Scholtz (62) and Dave Morris (46) saw Bury go from 34-2 to 134-3 and seemingly in control.
But a devasting spell from Stephen Hodkinson who took 8-68 proved decisive as Bury fell five runs short of victory.
Bottom club Golborne had no answer to third-bottom Darcy Lever’s batting.
Freddie Oliver scored 55, Chris Fenn 54 as third-bottom Darcy posted 256-9 before Golborne replied with 139.
David Dempster top scored for Golborne with 42 after taking 5-79, while Dominic Gavin took 5-35 for Darcy.
Darren Mullineux scored an unbeaten 44 to lead Little Hulton’s successful reply to Astley and Tyldesley’s 190-6 – which had been boosted by a healthy late partnership between Chris Bullock (36no) and Tom Pemberton (22no).
Nathan Rushton added 39 while A&T’s Jimmy Cutt took 3-73 and Nathan Johnston 3-53.