The top three title contenders all powered to victories against the bottom three strugglers to leave the battle for Notts Premier League (NPL) honours and survival on a knife edge.
With just four matches remaining, would-be champions Cuckney, Plumtree and West Indian Cavaliers are separated by only 26 points after convincing performances to dispose of Clifton Village, Ordsall Bridon and Hucknall respectively.
Cuckney, who play Plumtree on Saturday, September 3, remain favourites thanks to a six-wicket triumph at resurgent Clifton, whose valiant attempts to climb away from the relegation zone were halted by a peak-form Trent Lawford, who took 7-51 to blast them out for 99. In reply, the leaders lost three early wickets themselves before easing home in the hands of James Hawley (51no).
The result kept Cuckney 23 points clear of second-placed Plumtree, who hammered Ordsall by 87 runs after taking out the insurance policy of declaring to give them three extra overs in which to bowl out their visitors. The home side totalled 253-2 thanks to a superb 215-run stand between centurions Sam Wood, who made an unbeaten 114 from 118 balls, and Oliver Soames, who finished on exactly 100no. It was the pair’s second 200-plus run partnership this season. As it happened, Plumtree didn’t need the added time because they dislodged Bridon for 166 in 44 overs, despite 42 from Liam Andrews and 41 from Matthew Roberts. Six of the wickets were shared by Hassan Azad (3-23) and Bobby Gamble (3-51).
Cavaliers kept up the pressure on the top two with a crushing 165-run success at home to Hucknall after also declaring. They amassed 296-4 in only 45 overs, with Akhil Patel smashing an unbeaten 152 (one six and 21 fours) from 131 balls and sharing stands of 172 with Shaun Levy (57), 53 with Adeel Shafique (20) and 64 with Aitizaz Khan (37 off 16 balls). Hucknall then staggered to 131 all out, despite 48 from Josh Downie, as Kafeel Shafique took 4-27 and Adam Tillcock 3-37.
The three results kept Hucknall, Bridon and Clifton in the bottom three places. But only a few points above them are Welbeck after a 29-run loss to local-derby rivals, Mansfield Hosiery Mills. As Jonathan Ball took 3-31 and Muhammad Malik 3-41, the hosts removed The Millers for 151, despite a 78-run partnership between Tom New (44) and Elliot Bowles (39). But then they slid to 122 all out in reply against the bowling of Matt Wright (4-28) and Irosh Samarasooriya (3-34).
Caythorpe, who are another side yet to fend off the threat of relegation, held on by the skin of their teeth for a losing draw at Notts CCC Academy after conceding 234-4, of which Joey Evison fired an undefeated 92 and Liam Patterson-White 42no in a fifth-wicket stand of 97. Lyndon James made 53 for the visitors, who finished on 178-9.
Meanwhile defending champions Kimberley slumped to another defeat when dismissed for 192, despite 73 from Dominic Brown and 68 from James Fenwick, in reply to Radcliffe-on-Trent’s 224-8. The home side’s heroes were batsman Rob Sutton (109no) and bowler Ben Savage (7-51).