JESSE Dinnie hailed the character of his Atherton side after finally securing Association promotion with victory over champions Heaton on Saturday - a week after they thought it had been achieved.

Atherton beat their visitors by 27 runs at Higham Park defending a competitive 189 target, with Australian captain Dinnie starring with 40 and seven wickets.

Last Saturday when their visit to Darcy Lever was abandoned due to an unfit pitch, they left the ground believing they would be awarded seven points – the equivalent of a bonus-point victory.

That meant an unassailable lead over third-placed Eagley.

Then, on Wednesday, they were informed they would only get six points, leaving them needing a point to guarantee promotion. Eagley were still alive.

That, says Dinnie, affected their preparation for Saturday’s final round game.

“We thought we’d got the seven points and promotion, and the boys were quite relieved,” he explained.

“They were disappointed they didn’t get to play and do it properly, but pleased we had achieved what we wanted.

“At training on Tuesday it was being questioned, but we were still so positive after what we’d been told.

“We came up with plans on how to go about the Heaton game to ensure we won the league. That was our only goal.

“Then, when that point got taken away, our plans had to change because the objective was just to win to make sure we got promoted. It really threw us.

“So it says a lot about the boys and how they adapted to make sure we won.

“I’m really delighted for them. They put a lot of effort in.

“The season we had, we started really well and then dropped off a bit.

“We also lost our overseas amateur (Haseeb Qureshi moved to Little Lever in late July), and we didn’t have time to get another one given he only gave us a week’s notice before the replacement cut off date.

“I’m not sure why he left, but it affected the make up of our side given we’d planned to have him.

“So for the boys to finish off the season how we started it and dig deep for another performance was really pleasing as a captain.”

Dinnie elected to bat on Saturday and shared 61 with wicketkeeper and locum opener Jack Welch (21). He joint top-scored with 40 alongside professional Manelka de Silva in 186-7, while Robert Harper added an important season’s best unbeaten 32 in the middle order.

In Heaton’s chase, Dinnie came on second change with his off-spinners and returned 7-32 from 17.1 overs as the visitors slipped from 102-2 to 159 all out. Daniel Hughes also struck twice.

“We knew we just had to get a score because it’s a pretty hard ground to chase on,” said Dinnie, who praised Heaton for winning the title by a point despite being beaten twice by Atherton.

“They got off to a pretty good start, but we never lost faith because a couple of wickets and it would be hard for new batters to start on.

“Heaton are champions, and you can’t take that away from them. They deserve it, they’re a good side, and I hope they had a great night on Saturday celebrating.”