ECB Premier League - Northern slip up against the Rakers
Saturday 6th August 2005

Two Saturdays in September could well determine the destiny of the ECB Premier League title.

Northern entertain Bootle on the first Saturday of the month and New Brighton visit Wadham Road the following week. The way results have gone lately, it doesn't look as if many points will separate the three contenders until the final few games.

New Brighton's crucial win at Moor Park against leaders Northern helped them step over Bootle into second place, six points behind the Crosby club, while the champions suffered a shock home defeat by Lytham.

Northern's batsmen, John Wildman (44), Steve Parry (27) and Karl Brown (21) apart, floundered against the bowling of Paul Strang (5-41) and a rejuvenated Louis Botes (4-33), being dismissed for 144 (49.2 overs). Rudra Singh's 69* helped New Brighton to a win by four wickets at 145-6 (52.2 overs).

Unread text messages concerning Chris Sainsbury's illness reduced Bootle to 10 men against Lytham and their batting faltered at 72-6. Paddy McKeown (58) and Ronnie Davis added 52 before Davis (45) and Graeme Jones (31) put together a further 56 for the eighth wicket. Bootle were finally dismissed for 186 (48.5 overs), Marcus Sharp taking 5-47, the last of which took him to 50 for the season.

Lytham looked out of it at 79-6 before Richard Openshaw (40), Aaron Alley (28) and Sharp (24), rallied them to a one wicket win at 187-9 (41.4 overs), Davis (3-18) and Adam Warren (3-71).

Northop Hall crashed to a seventh successive defeat against Fleetwood Hesketh and look doomed to relegation as Gary Wells, Derek Sykes and Dave Bernard piled more misery on the bottom club.

Hall batted well enough, totalling 237-6d (58 overs), mainly through openers Goolam Bodi (84) and James Dyer (56), who shared a 139 partnership but in reply had no answer to Gary Wells, who scored an impressive 102* (145 balls, 12x4s). He shared stands of 106 for the second wicket with Derek Sykes (47) and an undefeated 127 for the third with Dave Bernard (66*, 53 balls, 9x4s, 2x6s) in an eight wicket win at 239-2 (47.1 overs) with 11 balls remaining.

Hightown's hopes of surviving the drop were hit by a five wicket defeat at the Oval.

Wallasey's Ryan Groeneveld (4-33) and Phil Luxon (3-25) had Hightown in disarray at 45-4 before Evon McInnis gave them a boost with 53 off 24 balls (6x4s, 4x6s). Another collapse took Hightown from 112-6 to 125 all out after 31 overs.

In reply, Wallasey wobbled at 62-5, but John Pugh (60*) and Richie Conlan (20*) saw them home at 127-5 (30 overs). Nathan Heathcliff-Core took 4-46 for the visitors.

Leigh's plight is getting worse, dropping three places to tenth. They were 80-3 but Adam Sanford (6-33) and Phil Unsworth (4-53) destroyed them for 113 (35.3 overs) - a total that included 61 from Gareth Cross and 20 from Luke Pomersbach -  in reply to Ormskirk's 218-8d (55 overs). Unsworth was man of the match, having earlier top scored with 64* in a partnership of 124 for the fifth wicket with Kevin Burns (60). Ian Glayzer struck 42.

David Heyes returned to Sefton Park to haunt his old club, but Huyton's new acquisition, all rounder Waqas Chughtai, made an impressive début, too.

Heyes hit a magnificent 91 (88 balls, 10x4s, 3x6s) and shared in a stand of 116 for the third wicket with Chughtai (48, 54 balls, 4x4s, 2x6s) out of 193 all out, made in 42.5 overs. Howard Parker took 4-57 for the home side with Ramesh Powar having figures of 3-75.

Chughtai and Graham Bolton then reduced the home side to 42-5 before Powar (64) and Rob Houghton (55*) mounted a rescue mission by adding 98 for the sixth wicket. Sefton Park could only add a further 29 and were all out 169 (42.1 overs), with Chughtai taking 6-56 and Graham Bolton 4-36.