ANTHONY AXFORD BOLTON LEAGUE: Final-day drama ends with Greenmount joy
GREENMOUNT clinched a Lancashire Knockout spot on the final day of the season when they won their straight top-four shootout at home to Farnworth Social Circle by just four runs.
The Bury side went into the clash in second spot and knowing the winner of the last fixture of the campaign would be guaranteed their place in the top four.
And they looked to be on their way to a challenging total after Asif Zakir (65) and Phil Ingram (48) saw them reach 171-4.
But an incredible collapse with the loss of six wickets in as many runs meant they ended on 177 – Andrew Lane taking 5-42 for Social Circle.
Matthew Leach hit an unbeaten 56 in response and was ably supported at the crease by deputy professional Francois Haasbroek – of Lancashire League side Lowerhouse – who hit 37 runs.
But the chase fell agonisingly short for the visitors thanks to 4-51 from Mark Stewart as they finished on 173 all out.
Greenmount’s win did not prevent them slipping to fourth as both Westhoughton and Egerton also won to secure their Lancashire Knockout qualification.
Westhoughton restricted their hosts Walkden to 136 all out before posting 137-1 to win by nine wickets, while Egerton skittled Heaton out for just 81 runs after a modest 125 batting first to win by 44 runs.
Farnworth, who had already qualified for next season’s Knockout after their Hamer Cup triumph, finished fifth after a six-wicket win at home to Eagley.
It was a high scoring game that included a century on either side.
Eagley batted first and professional Usman Arshad hit 135 not out and was part of a 171-run second-wicket partnership with Mike Ward (84) as they ended on 262-4.
It looked a challenging target for Farnworth but they were spurred by a century from Adil Nisar (126) who himself was involved in a partnership of 133 for the third wicket.
Matthew Hicks (30) and Anwar Ul-Haq (41) supported Nisar and their chase was aided by an incredible 39 wides in 46 extras.
They ended on 264-4 to seal fifth spot.
Champions Little Lever ended on a winning note thanks to an incredible bowling display from Rakeb Mahmood who claimed all nine Tonge wickets in a three-wicket triumph.
Mahmood took 9-89 from 21 overs as Tonge ended on 207-9, Ali Azmat (59), Neil Tong (42no) and Nigel Partington (40) top scoring.
Simon Anderton was the Little Lever high scorer in response with 45 while Jake Wilde (42) and Harvey Wilson (41) weighed in with good knocks as the table-toppers reached 208-7, Neil Tong the star with the ball for the hosts with 4-80.
Visitors Bradshaw started well and reached 51-1 but a fine spell of bowling from deputy professional Bilal Naeem – from Milnrow – saw them finish 125 all out from 30.1 overs.
Jack Scott also took 3-34. In response Naeem hit 49 runs as the hosts reached 126-3, Steve Foster (2-36).
Astley Bridge ended on just 87 after Liam Bones took 6-43 with the ball.
Horwich posted 90-4 in reply, with an unbeaten half century from Dave Morris.
Astley Bridge 87, Horwich 90-4. Horwich won by 6 wkts.
Egerton 125, Heaton 81. Egerton won by 44 runs.
Farnworth 264-4, Eagley 262-4. Farnworth won by 6 wkts.
Greenmount 177, Farnworth Social Circle 173. Greenmount won by 4 runs.
Kearsley 126-3, Bradshaw 125. Kearsley won by 7 wkts.
Tonge 207-9, Little Lever 208-7. Little Lever won by 3 wkts.
Walkden 136, Westhoughton 137-1. Westhoughton won by 9 wkts.