ECCLESHALL CC will need to produce a winning performance away at Woore this weekend after another disappointing home defeat to Oulton by 51 runs last Saturday, writes Sam Jackson.
The Church Street side won the toss and decided to bowl, which appeared to be quite vital on a sticky wicket following midweek showers.
They made progress difficult for the visitors as Cameron Sinclair and Pradeep Jayaprakashdaran took early wickets to reduce Oulton to 32 for 3.
But opener Jon Whalley showed gritty determination as he battled and grafted against the tight Eccleshall bowling.
He received support from Rob Spruce with 27 and helped to push Oulton towards a respectable score.
Sinclair and Jayaprakashdaran both finished with three wickets but Whalley’s 68 led his side to a total of 148 for 8 from their full 55 overs.
Eccleshall started well, with openers Jake Derry and Tom Hibbert putting on 36 for the first wicket before Hibbert fell to the left arm spin of Oulton pro Dries Nell.
Once again Eccleshall’s batsmen demonstrated fragility as Tom Spruce’s spin together with Nell caused them all sorts of problems.
Derry top scored with 24 but there was little resistance down the order as Spruce picked up 6 for 32 and Nell 4 for 28 as Eccleshall were bowled out for just 97.
The 25 points victory lifts Oulton clear of the relegation zone, whilst Eccleshall are left to contend with a final match relegation decider at Woore who are just a point ahead of second bottom Eccleshall.
Bignall End and Weston (Cheshire) could also finish the season in the relegation zone, with bottom side Rode Park and Lawton having an outside chance of achieving safety.
There was more joy for the Eccleshall seconds who registered a resounding win at Oulton by ten wickets.
Their pace attack proved too much for Oulton who struggled from the off.
Following his nine wicket haul from the previous week Dave Robertson continued his excellent form by picking up three early wickets as Oulton fell to 21 for 5.
Opening bowling partner Mark Denne deserved more from his seven overs but finished with 0 for 9.
The pressure Eccleshall were applying resulted in two run outs, whilst Tom Phillips blasted out opener Tom Beeston, who top scored with 17.
Keiron McKenna then applied the finishing touches with 2 wickets for 1 run from his only over as Oulton were shot out for 51.
Eccleshall set about the target aggressively despite a good spell from seamer Curtis Bates of 0 for 5 from 5 overs.
Dominating the bowling, Eccleshall reached their target in the 15th over without loss. Joe Derry was unbeaten on 35 not out and Andy Parton 11 not out.
The convincing ten wicket victory brought Eccleshall another 20 points and they remain in fourth place with an outside chance of promotion. Whether they claim second place in the league or not will depend on results from the final Saturday of the season this weekend.