ECB Premier League - Is Hightown's season really over?
Monday 29th August 2005

Hightown still have a chance of avoiding relegation from the ECB Premier League, but their Bank Holiday weekend performances would suggest that they are doomed. Yesterday's bottom of the table clash with Northop Hall was a must win situation but, while their batting improved on their embarrassing 40 all out against Bootle on Saturday, it was still nowhere near good enough to overhaul the Welsh side's 200-7d (53.4 overs) and they lost by 77 runs.

Failure to string together decent scores has been their problem for most of the season and once they had been reduced to 27-4 any thoughts of victory disappeared. Goolam Bodi's superb 117 was the basis of the visitors' win after they were put in to bat. Tony Sparks scored 30, while Nathan Heathcliff-Core's 3-49 was the best from the home attack.

Amir Mahmood's brilliant 8-60 put paid to the home side at 123 (28.1 overs), but a second successive win is unlikely to save the Welsh side from the drop, either.

Fleetwood Hesketh's relegation fears have been eased in recent weeks and a second home win of the weekend ended any doubts. Peter Appleton took 4-17 on his farewell appearance before emigrating to Australia and Dave Bernard had 3-17 as Lytham, who lost the toss, managed only 106 from 41.4 overs (Jimmy Wisniewski 29*) at Sea Cop. Neil Rimmer struck 60*, Derek Sykes 32* and David Bernard hit the winning six to take the score to 111-3 (23 overs).

Leigh's slide towards the bottom continued as Huyton hit back to win by five wickets at Huyton Lane. They had done the hard work as Waqas Chughtai (4-42), Ashraf Nawab (3-22) and Graham Bolton (2-8 off 10) removed Leigh for just 114 (44.4 overs, Chris Reid 48*), with the last six wickets falling for just 21 runs.

The home side looked vulnerable at 18-4. David Heyes' (67*) featured in a 43 run stand with Graham Bolton (14*) which guided them to 115-5 after 34.1 overs and victory.

The top three sides all suffered defeats but the results benefited leaders Northern as the season approaches its climax.

Phil Unsworth's superb 7-41 in 18 overs put paid to them for just 128 (38 overs, Jack Kelliher 46) in reply to Ormskirk's 177-7d (68 overs) in which Ian Robinson (62*) and Andy Sharrock (28*) put together an unbroken eighth wicket stand of 84. Steve Parry had fine figures of 5-56 from 21 overs.

New Brighton's second successive defeat has effectively ended their title hopes. They are now 42 pts behind with 75 available in the three remaining matches. The Rakers were dismissed for 139 (52 overs) in the derby clash with Wallasey at Rake Lane after winning the toss.

Paul Strang hit 39, while Craig McKillop (27) and Matty Thompson (23*) boosted the total from 78-8 with a stand of 52 for the ninth wicket. Chris Bourne (3-32), John Murphy (3-39) and Ryan Groeneveld (3-42) all bowled effectively.

However, Mark Wilkie (29), John Pugh (27, skippering the side in Phil Luxon's absence - broken thumb from Saturday) and Richie Conlan (24*) saw the visitors to a four wicket win at 142-6 after 35.5 overs.

An incredible spell of 5-1 by Rob Houghton off 4.5 overs (4.5-4-1-5) saw Bootle crash to 79 all out (31.5 overs) after being 52-3 at Sefton Park. Dave Poskitt removed the top order to finish with 3-34.

Sefton had totalled 132 (47 overs), mainly thanks to Ramesh Powar's 50. Chris Sainsbury took 4-38 and David Snellgrove 3-26.