ECCLESHALL firsts were able to extend their lead at the top of Division 3 of the NSSCL to 12 points last Saturday thanks to a century by Myles Coughlan.
Visiting bottom side Norton in Hales the hosts decided to put the leaders into bat giving them the chance of claiming the maximum 25 points in order to try to stretch ahead from second placed Woore.
Despite losing the in form Dave Hibbert for a duck, Eccleshall recovered to be reasonable placed at 68-3.
Then followed a 94 run partnership between skipper Myles Coughlan and Nick Cooper which swung the match the visitors way completely.
Cooper was out for 26 but Coughlan carried on, in superb form, to reach his second century of the campaign and finish on 107 not out with Rob Lakin unbeaten on 25 as Eccleshall declared at 207-4 from 50 overs.
Norton faced a daunting target as the wicket offered help for the bowlers and it was paceman Cameron Sinclair who dominated proceedings by ripping through the home side’s line up.
Sinclair was unplayable on the day and took seven wickets for just 36 runs as the hosts crumbled to just 79 all out from 28 overs.
The win did, indeed, increase Eccleshall’s lead at the top as Woore only picked up 20 points to Eccleshall’s 25.
With the lead still only 12 points and the two sides meeting this coming Saturday at Woore in what should be a scintillating contest to decide the probable champions of Division 3A.
Eccleshall seconds entertained Norton in Hales seconds in the reverse fixture and the story was a very similar one.
The hosts lost the toss but were pleased to bat first in their efforts to chase down second placed Weston and try to win promotion to division 2B.
It was Andrew Parton who controlled the home side’s innings with an excellent century with support coming from John Ecclestone (31) and Joe Derry (27).
Parton’s 107 meant they were able to declare on 211-6 from 44 overs.
Teenager Eddie Warrington worked hard for Norton and collected 4 wickets for 49 runs.
In reply the visitors struggled from the start and were soon in trouble as seamers Jake Derry and Dave Robertson picked up two wickets each.
Rob Warrington grafted for a hard fought 29 but when he was bowled by Simon Derry the innings fell away.
Slow bowler Derry finished with 4-24 as Norton were all out for 86.
The 25 points were welcome for Eccleshall but the news came in from Weston that they had also achieved a 25 points victory so the promotion is now looking a little more distant as the gap is still 22 points with two matches to play.