Mawdesley Cricket Club were once again involved in a nail-biting contest which went down to the final wicket, this time against Penwortham at Middleforth Green.
Arguably the contest could and should have been wrapped up comfortably by the West Lancashire outfit long before last man Neil O’Malley’s batting heroics secured a nervy victory.
Matt Watkinson invited the home side to bat first on a very green looking track and his bowlers made early inroads into the Penwortham line up.
Nathan Trengove induced a faint knick from the bat of Tom Nowlan into the gloves of David Whiteley for eight, whilst at the other end Alex Berry picked up the first of his four wickets when he had Mathew Walmsley also caught behind by the Mawdesley wicketkeeper for three.
Opener Adam Gray (23) occupied the crease neatly until he was clean bowled by Darren LeMarinel but the visitors were guilty of gifting chances with a series of dropped catches.
Home skipper Ashley Billington made the most of an early reprieve to compile 73 runs; however he was seeing wickets tumble with some regularity at the opposite end.
At 110-8, Mawdesley had hopes of wrapping up the innings quickly but Billington and number 10 batsman Wayne Maddock had other ideas.
The pair combined with great effect to frustrate the visiting side and punish the sloppy fielding on display.
Together they put on a partnership worth 80 runs with Maddock bludgeoning his way to a quick-fire half century.
By the time Watkinson bowled his opposite number Billington in the final over, Penwortham had amassed a competitive-looking total of 195-9 from 45 overs.
Berry finished with figures of 4-42 from 17 overs but he could have claimed many more wickets had his teammates held on to all the chances he created.
Mawdesley made a slow start in reply, losing Ben Ward (5) and Nick Marsden without score early on, both to the bowling of Nathan Walmsley.
The experienced duo of Whiteley and Brian Parr united in the middle to dampen the early enthusiasm of the Penwortham attack and rebuild the run chase.
Parr made a patient 18 on his return to the first XI with Whiteley (34) punishing any loose deliveries to great effect.
Captain Watkinson (29), LeMarinel (38) and Alex Berry (33) all made runs in the middle order to put their side in sight of victory.
However, Mawdesley have a habit of making life difficult for themselves and when Berry was the seventh man out with 24 runs still required, the nerves started to creep in.
Trengove was run out chasing a quick single.
Then Jay Davies was clean bowled attempting an almighty heave to leave the last wicket pair of Mark Huyton and Neil O’Malley with 10 runs still to get.
Huyton (5) remained calm amidst the chaos and with six required to win, O’Malley swatted a huge maximum with consummate ease to see his side home.
Mawdesley sit in fifth position of Division One with four games remaining but a mid-table finish looks the most likely return for the men from Rectory Field.
Mawdesley's second XI continued their promotion charge by blowing away Great Eccleston’s fourth string to secure a comprehensive quickfire victory.
Skipper Jay Bethell had no hesitation in asking his opponents to bat first and his bowling unit vindicated his decision with a devastating performance.
Dave Wilson was the spearhead of the attack to which Great Eccleston simply had no answers.
His six-over spell saw him claim five wickets for just four runs, all from one shot, and included five maidens.
Teammate Luke Tinsley picked up 2-3 from six overs with Joshua Adamson and Keith Barker each snapped up a wicket.
No batsman was able to reach double figures as Great Eccleston were bowled out for just 28 – with 11 runs coming as extras – in the 21st over.
Tom Proctor (10 not out) and Mukesh Hemmady (13 not out) made light work of the required target to wrap up a 10 wicket victory in the sixth over.
The maximum 12 points earned moves Mawdesley to the top of the pile in Division Six and with a game in hand over their nearest rivals Ingol and Wyre.
Bethell’s side have four games remaining to secure a promotion place and hopefully the title.
Mawdesley's Sunday XI fell to 40 run defeat at Blackpool in a game played at one of Lancashire’s county out grounds, Stanley Park.
The home side amassed a daunting looking 201-2 from their 45 overs but the men from Mawdesley put up a spirited reply before being bowled out for 161 in the 37th over.
Jay Davies was the leading run-maker for Mawdesley making an undefeated 67 off just 45 deliveries.
His innings included 11 fours and a six.
Teammate Kelvin Gibbons contributed 46 in the defeat.
Julian Campbell’s side just have one remaining fixture of the 2014 campaign when they host Leyland in two weeks’ time.