SKELMERSDALE’S first XI made the short journey to play St Helens Town on Saturday looking for a win that would leap-frog them over their hosts.
The home team won the toss and elected to bat first.
There was early success for Skelmersdale, when with just 12 on the board the first wicket fell.
Gary Williams had scored five when he was given out lbw to Jonas Smith.
Skelmersdale’s opening bowler Smith was causing the batsmen quite a few problems, and it came as little surprise when Craig Woods was dismissed with the score on 17, also given out to a leg before decision.
The third St Helens wicket fell at 19, when David Gaskell also succumbed to lbw off Mohammed Rehan’s bowling.
At this stage Skelmersdale were dominating the proceedings, as St Helens found run-scoring difficult.
Ian Knowles and James Davies came together and began to bring St Helens back into the game with a flurry of boundaries that flew over the slip cordon.
With Rehan bowling at one end and Smith on a reduced run-up at the other, Skelmersdale clocked up 22 overs in the first hour.
The St Helens score had moved onto 59 when the fourth wicket fell, that of Knowles sharply caught by Hasnain Abbas off the bowling of Louis Sweeney for 29.
It was left to Davies to carry the load for St Helens as he attempted to take on most of the Skelmersdale bowling.
Michael Stark came in to join Davies, but had only scored two when he was bowled by Sweeney, leaving St Helens on 71-5.
There was more trouble in store for St Helens, with the score on 75 as two wickets fell in consecutive overs.
First to go was the steady Davies, bowled by Rehan for 20. He was followed in the next over by Joshua Davies, caught by Matthew Fenney above his head, off Sweeney’s bowling for one.
St Helens were in deep trouble on 75-7.
St Helens skipper Matthew Fisher was joined at the wicket by Chris Lyon and the pair managed to push the home team score up to 98 when the eighth wicket fell. As Skelmersdale surrounded the batsman, Lyon was caught by Ben Maddocks off Rehan for three that had been accumulated in 40 balls as he attempted to provide support for his skipper.
Liam Gaskell came in next and survived a couple of balls before being bowled by Rehan for a duck.
Matthew Fisher had scored 27 when he was stumped by Luke Manley to become Rehan’s fifth wicket, leaving St Helens all out for 108 in the 48th over with Phil Murgatroyd still to face a ball.
From the start of Skem’s reply, opener Joe Till looked uncertain of the wicket, and after playing and missing on several occasions he was caught behind the stumps by Knowles without troubling the scorers.
It was not the start that Skelmersdale were looking for.
Maddocks joined Smith at the crease and soon moved the score onto 33 when the second Skelmersdale wicket fell.
Maddocks cut a shot to gully, but was caught by Stark for five.
Next in was Abbas who set about attacking the St Helens bowlers.
He had hit three fours off eight balls faced when bowled by James Davies for 14, after attempting a big hit.
Kyle Till came to join Smith, who was accumulating runs without too much fuss.
The Skelmersdale score had moved onto 61 when the fourth wicket fell, as Smith was caught in the slips by Stark for 36.
Till was joined by Skelmersdale skipper Barry Leadbetter and with the former as support, the pair were prepared to wait for the poor delivery before dispatching the ball to the boundary.
St Helens were forced into making a bowling change to try to get the breakthrough. They brought on Murgatroyd who had a torrid over as he was driven for 19.
This fruitful over brought Skelmersdale to within touching distance of the win.
It came immediately after Leadbetter was dropped, as he then drove the next ball for four.
At the close Skelmersdale were 111 for four in the 24th over, with the unbeaten pair of Till (5) and top-scorer Leadbetter (40) seeing Skelmersdale to a win and 25 points.
AT Scott Rees Park, Skelmersdale’s second XI had to settle for a draw against Sutton (St Helens).
The home side won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Sutton got off to a flyer with openers Adam Onion and Lewis Bolton in fine form.
They put on 91 for the first wicket, when Onion was caught and bowled by Matthew Esh for 51.
Almost immediately, another wicket fell when Luke Hughes was bowled by Esh for a duck.
The third Sutton wicket fell at 110 when Esh claimed another victim, trapping Edmund Hirst lbw for 11.
Andrew Hughes came in to join opener Bolton, only to be bowled by Jack Maddocks after scoring two runs. Michael Rimmer joined Bolton and took the Sutton score onto 172 when the declaration was made in the 45th over, for the loss of just four wickets.
At the close Bolton was unbeaten on 58, with Rimmer on 26.
Skelmersdale were looking for a good opening start, but it was not to be, when Alex Glover was caught by Rimmer without scoring.
With only two runs on the board, the second wicket fell as the in-form Omkar Salunkhe was stumped by James York off his first ball faced.
It was an inexplicable decision to stride down the wicket for the first ball, and left Skelmersdale in a precarious position.
As opening batsman Esh continued to play sensibly, he was joined by Stephen Rimmer, but with 15 added to the Skelmersdale score the latter was dismissed for five.
The veteran Ian Girvin came in next hoping to bring stability to the Skelmersdale cause. With both batsmen going well, the Skelmersdale score moved onto 46 when the fourth wicket fell, as Esh was bowled by Onion for 17.
Skipper Peter Davies joined Girvin determined to shore up one end whilst his partner continued to play his shots. However the fifth wicket fell at 55 when Davies was bowled by Onion without score.
Next man in, Phil Wright, showed that he was not going to be tied down by the Sutton bowlers and quickly scored 22 , before being caught by Jeffri Salleh.
It was effectively the end of Skelmersdale’s run-chase.
Girvin was eventually dismissed, caught by Andrew Hughes for 32 runs, leaving Skelmersdale on 104-7. With another two runs added, Robbie Oliver was bowled by Luke Hughes for eight.
It left Jack Maddocks (11) and Paul Bennett (8) to hold out for the draw.
At the close Skelmersdale were some ways short of the required score, on 125-8 in the 47th over.