Leigh extended their winning run to three on the bounce, and their unbeaten streak to six, thanks to a suffocating bowling display followed by a perfectly timed chase at Southport & Birkdale.
The individual star of a dominant team display was Sam Dorsey, whose 95 featured eight fours and three sixes and never let the home attack settle, after skipper Chris Cunningham’s delayed declaration left them 40 overs in which to get 208 runs.
The last hour dawned with 133 required from 120 balls – Dorsey and Mattie McKiernan struck an early boundary in four of the next six overs, then picked off easy singles in the vast outfield.
McKiernan fell to Cunningham for 56, but by then left-armer Bobby Wincer had been hit out of the attack and the required rate was below a run a ball.
Crucially, Dorsey kept the runs flowing even after losing his partner – two fours over mid-wicket put seamer Romario Brathwaite on the sidelines, while the opener’s earlier treatment of Basil Sultan left Cunningham with nowhere to turn bar the off-spin of himself and Chris Firth.
Consecutive huge sixes off the skipper left Leigh nine short of victory and Dorsey five shy of his first Comp century – next over, a scampered three put him on strike with six needed, but his attempt to settle it in one blow ended in the hands of Sultan at mid-on.
No matter, though – the job was all but done, and completed off the first ball of the last over with a tickle behind square by Alex Mason.
“The team that plays the more positive cricket, more often than not, is going to win more games,” said the winning captain Finn Hulbert, deputising for Karl Brown.
“As soon as we got within 40 or 50, we were fairly comfortable that we could score at eight, nine, 10 an over if needed.
“Sam’s pretty gutted not to get his hundred – but anyone batting that well, whether it’s for 95 or 100 doesn’t really make any difference. It was a proper performance from him.”
Some at a sunny Trafalgar Road – and Brown later via social media – expressed frustration with Cunningham’s tactics having chosen to bat first.
But in truth the home skipper had been painted into a corner by the opening exchanges, which saw Hulbert remove JJ Fielding and Johnny Whitehead, and Patrick Allan induce a season’s worth of play-and-misses at the other end.
Cautious at first, Jack Stanley and Sultan rebuilt with a pleasant partnership of 113 in 40.5 overs. But both fell to McKiernan in consecutive balls, separated by an over – Sultan caught off his boot for 55, Stanley off a leading edge for 64.
Tea came at 172/7, which was never going to be enough – no captain in that position would have in mind “what would make this an easier game for my opponent to win”, as the sideline chunterers seemed to be demanding.
S&B batted on until Firth was ninth out, in the 67th over – a draw seemed the likeliest result, but Dorsey had other ideas.
Hulbert added: “We knew when we turned up and it was a flat deck that they were going to have the chance to pile on the runs.
“They batted for a long, long time, but our bowlers gave us the best chance of restricting them as a side.
“And it helps when you’ve got players like Dors and Mattie who can come in and play really aggressive, positive cricket – and that’s what the Comp is all about.”
Wallasey’s opening pair of Jamie Crawley and Danny Beaver notched their fourth century stand of the season as the Wirral side stretched their ECB Premier Division lead with a 135-run win at Orrell Red Triangle.
Crawley hit 93 and Beaver 54 in their side’s 244/5; for the first time this season, Sumit Ruikar had to settle for a mere four wickets, as his fellow left-armer Andy Beaver took the last three to wrap up the win.
Northern and Ormskirk both fell just short of victory at Moor Park – the visitors by one wicket, the hosts by 13 runs. Gary Knight’s unbeaten 57 led his side to 217, while Danny Wilson claimed 5/60; Chris Laker’s 67 and Zahir Shehzad’s 6/68 were the top performers in the second half.
Birkenhead Park claimed Wirral bragging rights with a run-heavy four-wicket win at New Brighton. The hosts’ Dan Cooke made his maiden first XI century with 132 out of his side’s 233/6, but Mark Rowland’s 101, backed up by Tom Foster’s unbeaten 59, earned the visitors the spoils.
Wigan’s Charles Taylor and Aaron Redmond also joined the century club with unbeaten knocks of 114 and 103 respectively, as they piled on 163 out of a mammoth total of 301/2 at Formby. But with rain around, the hosts closed on 175/6 thanks to Sam Oldham’s 50.
Tyler McGladdery’s unbeaten 96 led Rainhill to their first win of the season, by nine wickets at Newton-le-Willows. Earlier, Imliwati Lemtur’s 5/31 had dismissed the hosts for 138 despite Ben Walkden’s 58.
Lytham made it eight wins from eight in Division One with a 96-run win over Northop Hall. Indian pro Akash Vashisht hit 17 fours in his unbeaten 128, which set up a total of 253/4; he returned later with the ball to run through the tail.
Liverpool earned a 43-run win at Firwood Bootle after Oliver Gilks top-scored with 51 out of 184.
Sefton Park’s last pair clung on for 27 balls to salvage a draw at Spring View – the visitors closed on 98/9, well short of the target of 223 set by David Gornall’s 83.
Highfield had the better of Rainford by 48 runs, after Madduma Lakmal’s 74 underpinned a total of 197; Jason Login’s 64 was in vain for the visitors, as Lakmal took 5/38.
Ainsdale’s 220/8 was too much for Caldy, despite Corne Nel’s 81, as Muhammad Irfan took 6/56 to seal a 45-run win.
Colwyn Bay’s Luke Russell hit 65 as the Welsh side posted 205 to earn a 101-run win over Fleetwood Hesketh.
Maghull thrashed struggling Parkfield Liscard to remain top of Division Two, rolling them for 87 then knocking off the runs three down.
Southport Trinity are second after Fred Thorpe’s 54 led their chase of 159 for a thrilling one-wicket win at Old Xaverians – the 10th wicket pair of Tony Campbell and Mark Prince had 18 runs to go when they came together, but skipper Prince sealed it with a six.
Norley Hall’s Michael Simpson hit 103 and Daniel Fisher 90 in their 265/6, which set up a 127-run win over Prestatyn.
Alder remain winless after they fell 79 runs short of Sutton’s 204. Joe Noctor top-scored with 81 for the visitors, as Greg Coogan took 7/57; Joe Smith’s 6/23 sealed the win.
St Helens Town’s 206/7 was enough for a 62-run win at Hightown St Marys; skipper Dave Gaskell top-scored with 61.