A BUSY weekend in the Bolton League Second XI section saw a full programme of league fixtures on Saturday followed by the quarter-finals of the Birtwistle Cup on Sunday, and the team of the moment Farnworth maintained their unbeaten start to the season.

Their lead at the top of the table has extended to eight points after nearest rivals Little Hulton suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of struggling Tonge. Batting first Tonge posted a very healthy 224-5 with major contributions coming from Abdul Bhagat, who made 73, Sajid Patel (45) and Robert Tully (41) as Nazim Khan picked up 3-41.

Patel then made 44 as Little Hulton replied with 171 all out, but only Ellis Pearson (49) of the other batsmen made much progress against some tidy bowling from Samir Ugharatdar (4-33) and Tully, who added 3-28 to his earlier runs.

Meanwhile, Farnworth enjoyed a relatively comfortable 51-run win at Bridgeman Park against Eagley. Shujat Ali led their batting effort with 52 and Sam Bradley added an unbeaten 30, but it was a generous helping of 44 extras that pushed them up to a final 210-8 despite Luca Doyle’s 3-37.

Doyle then added 22 runs when Eagley replied but despite Tom Mitchell (21), Will Owen (32) and Thomas Hodgkiss (25 not out) all chipping in with useful contributions, they were restricted to 159-8 with Jamie Bohannon taking 4-61.

Batsmen dominated the game between Westhoughton and Farnworth Social Circle at St George’s Oval as both sides passed the 200 mark before Westhoughton emerged seven-wicket winners.

Set a target of 207, they reached it for the loss of just three wickets, thanks mainly to an unbeaten 79 from Phil Wakefield, 37 from Jamie McAndrew and Harry Honour with 36no.

Social had earlier made 206-7, mainly thanks to the efforts of Andrew Wareing, who hit 77, and Tim Barrow with 45.

In contrast, bowlers held centre stage at Blackrod where Astley Bridge came out on top by 25 runs in a low-scoring game that saw 10 ducks between the two teams.

Bridge batted first, and despite Ady Cooper carrying his bat for 58, six of his partners recorded 0 and Steven Ashworth (4-30) and Ewan Phillips (3-5) restricted them to 114.

Blackrod’s reply was then undermined by Mehr Khan (5-10) and Hashim Akhtar (3-29), with only 48 from Jacob Stevenson providing much resistance as they tumbled to 89 all out.

Horwich RMI cantered to an eight-wicket victory over visitors Lostock after dismissing them for just 117.

George Jackson fought pretty much a lone hand for Lostock with a battling 60, but only two other batsmen reached double figures as Kishan Hira returned 5-36.

Youngsters Jake Swindells (49no) and Aryan Ashraf (35no) made short work of the chase.

Walkden enjoyed a comfortable 145-run victory over struggling Little Lever after dismissing their visitors for just 48 in reply to their own total of 193.

Patrick Hayhurst made 22 but with six of his team-mates out for a duck, they had little answer to a superb spell of 8-20 by Haroon Abbassi.

Mohsin Patel led the Walkden batting with 50, supported by 30 from Mahmood Abbassi and 29 from Mehran Anwar despite Don Heyes taking 4-70 and Callum Hill 3-24.

There was another low scoring affair as Atherton’s total of 86 posed few problems for their visitors Kearsley, who marched to a six-wicket win.

Andy Gregory, with 4-55, and Jack Scott (3-24) were the main architects of the home side’s struggles, with Mike Tomlinson’s 32 the highest of just three double-figure efforts. Scott then added an unbeaten 29 as he and George Banks (31) led their side to a comfortable win.

Sunday’s Birtwistle Cup ties saw Lostock, Eagley, Farnworth and Farnworth Social Circle progress through to the semi-finals of this year’s competition.

Social Circle made the day’s highest total as they rattled up 190-9 in a repeat of the previous day’s fixture at Westhoughton. This time, though, the visitors came out on top as they restricted the Westhoughton reply to 167. Wareing was once again to the fore with an unbeaten 81 for the visitors with Liam Ashworth adding 41. Luke Cowburn (3-40) and Ryan Chaisty (2-6) led the home side’s bowling efforts. No fewer than eight batsmen got into double figures in the run chase led by Jamie McAndrew (50) and 21 from Ryan Ashcroft, but Marsden Mulligan (4-37) and Bradley Burrow (3-28) helped restrict them to 167.

Lostock moved into just their second ever semi-final by virtue of a six-wicket win against Walkden at Chew Moor.

Set a target of 117, Lucky Issa, with an unbeaten 30, and Andrew Mattison, with 20, saw them over the line with 15 overs to spare. Earlier, Tom Mills, with 3-30, and two wickets each for Darren Parr, Kishan Ram and Asghar Ali had led to the visitors amassing just 116 with the bulk of those coming from Imran Ali (34) and Adnan Khan (29).

Eagley picked up a perhaps unexpected win at the Recreation Ground where they chased down a revised target of 148 to beat Horwich RMI.

Oscar Smith, with 3-35, and Oliver Tuck (3-21) were mainly responsible for bowling out RMI for 153 despite 44 from Max Adamson, 22 from Jake Swindells and 21 for Aryan Ashraf.

Cian Patel replied with 3-38 but Tom Mitchell (43), Will Owen (40) and Luca Doyle (33) saw Eagley to their target.

League leaders Farnworth marched on in pursuit of the double as they overhauled another adjusted target to defeat a determined Astley Bridge at Sharples Park.

Bridge had gone in first and, thanks to Ady Cooper (34), Paresh Patail (37no), Taimur Khan (28) and Ishy Patel (25), made a handy 178-7. The target was revised to 166 and Farnworth were in some trouble at 13-3 before a stand of 90 between Shujat Ali (53no) and Jamie Bohannon (70) set them back on track and a rapid 21 from Tom Speak saw them home.