LEAGUE leaders Farnworth Social Circle extended their unbeaten record and inflicted Bradshaw’s first defeat of the season as they won the battle of the top two by 76 runs at Rigby’s Lane.
A third-wicket partnership of 111 between Rameez Alam (66) and Josh Bohannon (44) proved to be the deciding factor as Matt Parkinson’s side put clear daylight between themselves and their title rivals.
The pair came together with Social Circle teetering on 48-2 but helped lay a foundation for the visitors, who eventually finished on 247-8 despite an excellent spell of 5-49 by Bradshaw’s top bowler Mohamed Jameel.
Bradshaw’s reply never really got going after they lost their first wicket – Bradley Yates – with just six runs on the board.
A fifth-wicket stand of 67 between Gary Garner (36) and Nick Lester (52) did give them some hope but once they fell Bradshaw’s resistance ebbed away as their innings was wound up for 171.
Social Circle’s Liam Bones, with 3-46, and Bohannon, with 3-23, were the pick of their bowlers.
Astley Bridge claimed their second notable scalp in as many games as they followed up victory over Farnworth with an eight-run win at home to Greenmount.
Back-to-back victories did not look likely after they were bowled out for 122, as Mark Stewart ripped through their batting line-up with 6-39, supported by Greenmount pro Akbar ur-Rehman’s 3-28.
But Astley Bridge pro Syd De Silva, who top scored with 24, showed his class with the ball to take 4-28, while David Cryer went one better with 5-55 as the visitors were bowled out for 114.
Adil Nisar was once again the star man for Farnworth as they bounced back from defeat at Astley Bridge last time out to secure a comfortable eight-wicket victory at Eagley.
The club’s former pro took 5-19 as Eagley slumped to 87 all out, with Agha Salman’s 36 the only innings of any real substance for the home side.
Nisar then hit 44 not out to lead Farnworth past their target without any major worries.
Westhoughton edged a tight match at fellow title contenders Egerton, passing their target of 190 with just nine balls to spare.
The home side lost their first three wickets cheaply in the face of some fine bowling by Westhoughton pro Qaiser Abbas, who took 3-78.
But Stuart Hornby (58) and Amal Dalugoda (55) each scored half-centuries in a useful fourth-wicket partnership that left the match in the balance.
Westhoughton timed their reply to perfection with a measured batting display that was started by opener Atiq uz-Zaman, who made 52, and finished off by wicket-keeper Kieran Paisley, who steered the visitors home with 41 not out.
Kearsley’s opening bowlers made light work of the reigning champions, with Sabah Ghause taking 7-54 and Ata ur-Rehman 3-63.
The home side had looked set as openers Anthony Hilton and Harvey Wilson made their way to 29 and 21 respectively, but they fell in quick succession and Little Lever slumped from 47 without loss to 79-5 and were eventually all out for 122.
After making just seven with the bat, Little Lever pro Kamran Younis did have some success with the ball, taking 3-33, but Kearsley reached their target thanks in part to 32 runs from pro Chesney Hughes.
Tonge’s travails with the bat continued as the Bolton League’s bottom side fell to a 42-run defeat at home to Horwich.
Iain McLellan’s players did the hard work with the ball, restricting the visitors to 142 all out.
John Settle (51) ploughed a lonely furrow for Horwich, but was dismissed shortly after making his half century as Chanaka Ruwansiri (5-81) and Gullam Abbas (5-35) each took fifers.
But anything the Tonge bowlers could do, the Horwich attack could do better, as the home side were bowled out for 100 inside 36 overs under an onslaught from Adam Street, who took 5-40, and visiting pro Babar Naeem, who continued his fine season with 5-50.
Mirza hit nine boundaries on his way to 78 not out, while Farhat clattered 39 runs from 39 balls to push the score along.
Walkden professional Travis Townsend had some joy, taking 3-49, but the visiting attack proved much more potent as they reduced the home side to 14-5 at one stage before eventually bowling them out for 76 to claim a comprehensive 124-run victory.
Farhat’s off-spin did the damage from one end as he took 4-36, while Joe Ducker (3-29) and Mirza (3-4) shared six wickets at the other end.
Honey Garg and Rafal Afridy put up some resistance for the sixth wicket, but when Garg was out of 27 and Afridi 24, the tail crumbled.