Hale Barns First XI ended their dismal recent run with an impressive 20-run win at promotion-chasing Lindow CC thanks to a five-wicket haul from spinner Joe Cooper.
The hosts started the day at the top of the table, while a four-game losing streak left Barns just above the relegation zone, but a terrific bowling display helped HBCC record an unlikely victory.
Lindow claimed the upper hand early on when Saleem Akram (2-22) restricted the visitors to 12-2 inside the opening seven overs.
Ben Staniforth dug in for 41 deliveries, but only managed to add three runs before heading back to the pavilion, while Sultan Raja’s first of three dismissals reduced the score to 57-4 just prior to the halfway stage.
Cooper played a crucial knock to provide some stability, but he was sent back by Tim Affleck three runs short of his half century. Raja (3-45) took two more wickets, including Khurram Hussain for 23, while Affleck doubled his tally as the wickets continued to tumble at 114-8 with seven overs remaining.
With the home team in an imposing position, Alex Ross led a late revival with a terrific innings. The reliable Aussie made a valuable contribution of 44 before becoming Affleck’s (3-37) third victim, with Barns eventually finishing their allotted overs on a defendable 151-9.
Having gained some momentum towards the end of their effort with the bat, Barns made early inroads to restrict Lindow to 36-3 as Ross made the first breakthrough, while Sam Smith (2-22) claimed two wickets, including the dangerous Affleck for a 12-ball duck.
However, a solid partnership between Adam Bull and Atiq Uz-Zaman appeared to be taking the game away from Barns, although Bull’s departure for 20 off the bowling of Cooper injected fresh hope despite Lindow remaining firm favourites at 106-4.
There was still time for one last twist, though, with Tom Saddington (2-6) picking up the decisive wicket of Uz-Zaman for 46 off 45 balls, while he struck for a second time in the same over thanks to an astonishing diving catch from Staniforth.
And it was Cooper (5-26) who ripped through the lower order, cleaning up the final four wickets with 8.2 overs to spare to secure his fourth fifer of the season and create a 53-point margin ahead of the bottom two.