DAVE Mather took the key wicket of Greenmount captain Andy Kerr to help Farnworth Social Circle clinch victory from the jaws of defeat and inch closer to their sixth title.
Social Circle went into the match without key players Tim Rees and Josh Bohannon and looked up against it after being bowled out for 132.
Andrew Lane top scored with 40, while pro Rameez Alam chipped in with a crucial 21 runs, but the twin strike force of Mark Stewart (6-56) and Phil Heaton (3-41) were always on top.
The visiting batsmen also struggled on a green pitch still slippery following Saturday’s downpour.
But Kerr occupied one end and picked his way to a gutsy 81 to take Greenmount to within 11 runs of their target before becoming the ninth man to fall and Mather’s sixth victim of a matchwinning spell of 6-68.
Chris Barrow also took 3-34 as Social Circle claimed a five-run win, maintaining a 10-point lead at the top with four matches left to play.
Their only remaining rivals for the title – second-placed Westhoughton and Bradshaw in third – both put themselves in position to pounce if Social Circle had slipped up.
Bradshaw made light work of reigning champions Little Lever, storming to a 10-wicket win after bowling out the visitors for 60 runs.
Captain Josh Gent missed the start of the match due to work commitments and was unable to make it to the ground before their innings was wound up.
Pro Kamran Younis hit 32, to score more half the Little Lever total, as Mohammed Jameel took 5-24, including four wickets two overs, and Steve Foster claimed 4-32.
Bradshaw made just two runs in the first six overs of their reply, but captain Saeed Anwar Jnr (25) and Tom Liversedge (31) eventually chased down their target inside 21 overs.
Westhoughton won by six wickets at Walkden in a match that was delayed due to the overnight rain and reduced to 40 overs.
The hosts managed 137-8, with Honey Garg (51) hitting a half century and Qaiser Abbas (3-45) and Atiq uz-Zaman (3-32) sharing the wickets.
Opener Dan Naylor, promoted from the seconds, the anchored the Westhoughton reply, finishing unbeaten on 76.
Elsewhere, there was joy at last for bottom club Eagley, who won their first match of the season at their 22nd attempt.
They bowled out Kearsley for 91, with deputy pro Umega Chaturanga taking 7-26, and despite stuttering to 94-8 in reply, club stalwart Michael O’Rourke saw them home with an unbeaten 52.
The remaining three matches were also low scoring, with second-bottom Tonge’s 166-3 the highest total of the day in their seven-wicket win at Astley Bridge.
Opener Daniel Holt led them home with 66no after Gullam Abbas’s 6-97 had restricted the hosts to 165-8, with Rick Northrop top-scoring for Astley Bridge on 73.
Horwich bowled out Egerton for 126 to win by 5 runs after only managing 131-9 themselves.
Egerton’s ninth man, Yaya Kajbalwara was the key wicket after he made 36, with Horwich pro Babar Naeem taking 6-34. Amal Dalugoda (5-41) and Will Halton (4-53) had put Horwich in trouble, but Phil Cavill’s 41 runs proved crucial.
Heaton continued their good form with a nine-run win at Farnworth.
Anwar ul-Haq was again the star, following up his century on Saturday with 41 runs in Heaton'’s total of 141 before taking 6-40 as Farnworth slumped to 132 all out.
Michael Daley top-scored for the hosts, while Curtis Anderton took 4-41.