ATHERTON finally hit the top of the Bolton Association thanks to a last-ditch batting assualt from Ian Nuttall and Steve Dixon.

Victory looked to be out of the question for a side thas has spurned chance after chance of going into pole position, yet their unlikely duo were not going to let it slip again.

Chasing British Aero's 175-3 Atherton had struggled to reach 118-8 and with only six overs remaining a losing draw seemed the best outcome for them.

That's when Nuttall and Dixon took command. They only needed five overs to score 60 runs to snatch winning points, Nuttall 39 not out and Dixon unbeaten on 26.

For a disbelieving Aero side, skipper Phil Knowles was unbeaten on 60 and Tony Settle 41

With Edgworth taking their rest day the result saw Atherton go top on 223 - three points ahead of Edgworth - with Golborne improving to go third on 217.

It all looks set for a tremendous climax over the second half of the season, especially since Golborne look to have got over their recent problems to beat Daisy Hill by 130 runs.

Ewan McCray was again a matchwinner with an innings of 79 and a bowling return of 4-37 but there were other heartening performances as well. New skipper Ian Seddon hit 48 in his side's 231-6 while Daisy were rolled over for 101, 16 years old left arm leg spinner Nicky Day picking up four wickets for seven runs. At one stage he had three wickets for none in two overs.

Spring View are fourth following their seven wicket success at Adlington.

The home side's recent improvement looked to be continuing as they totalled 167-8, Mark Halliwell 47, and it would have been more but for Ian Murphy's bowling which brought him 5-64.

Neil Bannister and Nigel Geary then put View well on their way to a win with an opening partnership of 102 and when the run rate began to slow, Chris Barnes kept the target in sight with a quickfire unbeaten 25.

Bannister''s innings ended at 87 while Geary hit 39.

Rob Clews hit 84 - his top score in senior cricket - and Paul Craig 81 in a fourth wicket partnership worth 154 that took Little Hulton to an impressive 239-8. That, however, could not force the win over Standish, who reached 181-3, Jon Bazeley 76 not out, Mark Ramsdale 45 and Peter Walder 40 not out.

Blackrod were also among the runs yet could not take winning points as Astley and Tyldesley held out for the draw. Nigel Partington's 73 and Kevin Anderson's unbeaten 42 helped Blackrod to 232-6 while A & T were 152-2 in reply, pro Scott Henderson following up his five wicket bowling spell with 79 not out.

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