Great Ecc stealing a march at the top

Rory McDowell took 3-42 for Longridge

Rory McDowell took 3-42 for Longridge

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The plot thickens in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title race.

After a dramatic weekend, Great Eccleston are the new leaders after the previous top two – Freckleton and Longridge – were involved in a nail-biting tied match.

Great Ecc lead the way by two points over Freck, with Longridge a further three points back.

Garstang still remain in contention with three games left to play, after they defeated Penwortham. Ian Walling’s men are 10 points off the top.

The drama unfolded at Bush Lane when Freckleton put the visitors in after winning the toss.

Runs had to be earned as opening bowler Jamie Hogarth produced an excellent spell of bowling taking 4-28.

Longridge were eventually dismissed for 142 after 39 overs with Joshua McDowell (32) and Daniel Wilkinson Jr (36) top scoring.

In reply, Ashley Moreau (26) and Joshua Holden (35) put on 53 for the second wicket but wickets then tumbled at regular intervals.

Rory McDowell took 3-42, with Dan Wilkinson and Alex Mason chipping in with two wickets apiece.

Home skipper Andrew Hogarth struck 29 to edge his team to victory, but they were unable to get over the line as they closed on the same total as their opponents.

Great Ecc took full advantage of their title rivals’ tie by comprehensively beating Thornton Cleveleys by 89 runs at Hall Lane in a rain affected match.

After being asked to bat first, the home side cracked 184-8 off 35 overs. James Thistlethwaite hit a half-century and Oliver Parkinson contributed 40. Jordan Beech took 3-30. In reply, Thornton were routed for 95 off 29 overs, with Mohamed Nadeem taking 6-22.

Garstang had no problems picking up maximum points in their clash versus Penwortham at the Riverside.

It was slow going for Penwortham as they batted first and accumulated 129-4 from 43 overs. Martin Hewitt top scored with and unbeaten 43.

In reply, the home side raced to victory inside 24 overs, with Mark Walling hitting an excellent unbeaten half-century.

If it is tight at the top, the same could also be said at the bottom as only 12 points separate the bottom three teams.

BAC/EE Preston won the big relegation battle as they got the better of Croston to move out of the drop zone.

Croston – who now prop up the table – made a healthy score of 187-5 with Stephen Langton contributing an excellent 78 and Sam Marsh finished unbeaten on 52.

In reply, BAC/EE timed their run chase well to overhaul their opponents’ total with nine balls to spare. John Mounsey hit a brilliant 94, with Sam and Simon Marsh taking three wickets each for Croston.

Hoghton are also in big trouble after their loss to Fulwood and Broughton means they eight points from safety.

Mark Smith hit 70 as F&B closed on 179-5. Arab Munir then took 4-42 at the strugglers were dismissed for 128.

In the final match, reigning champions Vernon Carus defeated Fylde by 41 runs after posting 206-5, with Wes Royle hitting 61.

Leyland proved to be a thorn in league leaders Morecambe’s side as they came away with a winning draw at the Stanning Memorial Ground.

The Northern League First Division clash was reduced to 35 overs apiece due to rain but Leyland’s overseas star Richardt Frenz still managed to bag a fine 50, hitting seven fours and one six.

The wicketkeeper posted 58 runs before he was stumped by his opposite number, Morecambe’s Lewis Edge.

Frenz’s knock helped the visitors post a target of 142 for victory, having amassed 141-7 in 35 overs. Suraj Randiv was the pick of Morecambe’s bowlers, taking three wickets for 59 runs from 18 overs.

In reply, Morecambe posted 109 but, despite some fine economic bowling from Luis Reece, Sam Oldham and captain David Makinson, Leyland were unable to clean up the tail.

Randiv and Edge topped scored for the host’s by both hitting 29 before Makinson and Oldham took their wickets.

Oldham ended up with three wickets for just 20 runs, Reece bagged two wickets for 36, whilst Makinson ended with figures of two wickets for 20.

But Morecambe salvaged a draw as Gert Maartens and Tommy Clough ensured Morecambe reached 35 overs with two wickets in hand.

Despite Keiran McCullagh’s impressive performance with the ball, Chorley faltered with the bat, allowing Barrow to record a 54-run victory at the Ernest Pass Memorial Ground.

The game was reduced to 42 overs a side and Ryan Gilmour top scored with 30, as the hosts posted 132-8.

McCullagh tore through the top order, taking four of the top five scalps, including captain Toby Mowat for 15 as he bagged four wickets for 19 runs in an 11 over spell.

But Chorley could not chase down the total.

Greg Reynolds drew first blood by trapping opener David Fisher for six and the bowler also snared number two Will Moulton lbw soon after.

Moulton’s knock of 15 became’s Chorley’s highest batting tally as Mowat tore through the middle order.

He impressed with the ball as he bagged figures of four wickets for just 12 runs, taking the scalps of captain Ian James Dickinson for 10, Jack Bentham for 13, Jospeh Tiffin for 0 and late order batsman Peter Cummins, also for 0.

Tharanga Paranavitana took the last wicket in his first over of the day as number 11 James Lee was caught by Dean Williams for four, with wicketkeeper Andrew Holdsworth not out on 10.

Elsewhere in the division, Penrith beat Lancaster by 139 runs, Darwen beat Blackpool by 65 runs, St Annes beat Kendal by 12 runs and Fleetwood beat Netherfield by 28 runs.