Younas Saeed led Hale Barns First XI to the brink of victory with a terrific five-wicket haul against Christleton CC, but they ultimately had to settle for a winning draw after falling one wicket short.
Late-order runs from skipper Christian Dodson steered the team to a competitive total before opening bowlers Saeed and Joe Fretwell-Walsh ripped through the order until a frustrating final partnership denied Barns a fourth win of the season.
Khurram Hussain showed signs of igniting the innings with a fluent 23, but was sent on his way after being caught and bowled by Joshua Joseph. Arslan Dar (2-34) put Barns four down for 53 after 20 overs before Nick Lathbury and Chris Colley formed a solid partnership to provide some much-needed respite.
However, the pair were only able to add 34 when Lathbury departed for 20, while Colley (13) fell soon after to Joseph, who was in impressive form with the ball.
Dodson decided to go on the offensive and smashed an important 38 off just 31 deliveries, but Joseph (5-46) continued to take wickets and removed the captain before claiming two more scalps for his fifer.
With more than 10 overs to spare at 151-9, Saeed (19 not out) & Fretwell-Walsh (14 not out) saw out the remainder of the innings to guide Barns to a more respectable total of 182-9.
In reply, both opening batsmen succumbed to Saeed within the first five overs and the top order suffered a catastrophic collapse, being restricted to 11-5 after Saeed added another to his tally, while Fretwell-Walsh claimed two wickets.
Another Saeed dismissal left Christleton reeling on 26-6 from 15 overs and the wickets kept tumbling as Josh Morgan Jones – the first batsman to reach double figures – was stumped by Hussain off Fretwell-Walsh (3-23) for 17.
Saeed (5-27) capped off a tremendous spell of bowling with his fifth victim to put Barns on the verge of victory with the score on 45-8. Having completed their allotted 15-over stints, a change of bowling allowed some relief for the Christleton tail-enders, with Michael Gaynon and Arran Brearey displaying plenty of grit and determination to trigger slim hopes of a losing draw for the hosts.
The pair put on 44 runs until Cooper (1-30) finally produced the breakthrough by sending Brearey back to the pavilion for 22. However, number 11 batter Adam Gittins provided stubborn resistance alongside Gaynon to continue Barns’ frustrations.
And despite their best efforts, the away side were unable to break the final partnership as Gaynon finished unbeaten on 32 off 92 deliveries, while Gittins made 25 not out, leaving the hosts 51 runs short of the required target.