REIGNING champions Farnworth Social Circle and newly-promoted Lostock are the early pacesetters in what looks like being a very competitive second XI Premiership this year with both recording hard-fought wins last weekend.

Social Circle battled their way to a four-wicket win at the Recreation Ground where they successfully chased down the home side's total of 156-9.

Michael Daley continued his good recent form with a fine unbeaten 84 to lead the run chase with good support coming from Michael Knight, who hit 28. Earlier, Josh Little (50) and Marcus Haydock (43) had been the main contributors to the RMI total with Simon Harrison the pick of the bowlers as he took 4-37.

Lostock kept pace with them after a six-wicket win against Darcy Lever at Chew Moor.

The visitors got off to a flier through Zeeshan Ali (40), Arslan Javad (32) and Kamar Singh (28), but the introduction of Darren Parr changed the course of the innings as he took 6-39 in a fine spell to help bowl them out for 161.

Three early wickets then put Lostock on the back foot before a match-winning stand of 131 for the fourth wicket between Mark Greenhalgh (75) and Jimmy McLaughlin (46 not out) got them home in the last over.

Heaton were another side to recover from a difficult position as having been 100-6 they eventually closed on 205-6 thanks to an unbroken stand of 105 between Matthew Bell (75no) and Charlie Unsworth (43no) despite Paresh Patail claiming 3-31 for Astley Bridge.

Patail was then the only batsman to provide any real resistance to the bowling of Jacob Whittaker (5-32) and Marcus Haslam (3-15) with his 25 comfortably the highest score in a disappointing reply of just 88 all out.

Abby Mort top scored with 42 and David Morris added 37 as Kearsley posted the highest score of the day in the division with an impressive 233-8 against Adlington.

Mike Halliwell, with 3-28, and Andrew Leyland (3-60) led the Adlington bowling efforts.

Halliwell then top scored in the reply for Adlington with 38 and Joe Leather added 34 but the rest of the order struggled to cope with a fine spell from Russell Jamieson, who took 5-20, and they were all out in the end for 123.

Westhoughton made short work of Bradshaw at St Georges Oval with an emphatic nine-wicket win.

Ryan Counsell fought pretty much a lone hand for the visitors, making almost half of their runs with a determined 42 out a total of just 88 all out.

The bulk of the damage was done by young spinner Mason McKenna, who took 5-15. Ian Pilkington then ensured his efforts were not wasted with a rapid 44 to seal a good win.

Farnworth moved level with Golborne at the top of the Association Division after a hard-fought two-wicket win at Walkden, where Mo Razzaq and Rizwan Parvez were the standout performers for their respective sides.

Razzaq top scored for Walkden as he made 59 out of their total of 142 all out, as Parvez took 5-34 for Farnworth and then made 36 which, together with 44 from Saif Stanikzal, helped his side reach their target despite Razzaq taking 3-24.

Golborne, meanwhile, slumped to a seven-wicket loss at the hands of Atherton after batting first and collapsing to just 64 all out with the top scorer being extras with no fewer than 21 of those.

Dan Hudspith, who took 5-14, and Tom Mather (3-24) did the bulk of the damage with the ball for Atherton before Matt Nolan's 28 went a long way to securing a good win for them.

There was another low-scoring game at Little Hulton where the home side just managed to edge past Little Lever with two wickets to spare.

Tamoor Jehangir, with 4-28, and Don Heyes (3-44) did their best to help defend their side's total of just 96, but in the end an unbeaten 24 from Stephen Thomasson proved decisive for the home team.

He had also been prominent with the ball earlier, taking 3-32 in partnership with Ian Lee (3-33) to set the Little Lever batsmen on the back foot with only Joe Rushton (32) posing any real threat to the bowlers.

Tonge thrashed a depleted Blackrod side by 179 runs at Castle Hill thanks in the main to a superb all-round effort from Hasib Patel, firstly top scoring for them in making 61, which together with 43 from Will Cook and 31 from Dan Hunt helped them to reach 224 despite a manful effort from Matthew Baty who took 6-88.

Patel then took over with the ball and Blackrod had no answer as he took 7-19 to hustle them out for a meagre 45 in response with a third of those coming as extras.

The final game of the day saw Eagley come out on top at home to Daisy Hill by a relatively comfortable margin of six wickets.

The visitors batted first and Stephen Kenny (49) and Warren Kenny (27) looked like pushing them on to a decent score but the rest of the batting fell away and they could only muster 115 all out with Will Owen taking 4-22.

George Jackson, with an unbeaten 40, and Craig Faulkner (49) then provided the bulk of the required runs to see Eagley home.