Cricket: Longton shown fighting spirit to halt Audley's victory charge
LONGTON battled back from the brink of defeat to secure a two-run victory at Audley.
Former Audley trio Craig Barker, Richard Holloway and Dave Fairbanks were returning to Kent Hills for the first time since their winter moves.
It appeared as though it would be a miserable reunion after their new side were dismissed for just 90.
Tail-ender Eddie Jones struck an unbeaten 23, but the efforts of Tom Oakes (5-21) and Ata Ur Rehman (4-43) put Audley in pole position.
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Andrew Joynson's 31 looked to have guided the hosts towards victory, but from 77-6, the home side collapsed.
Barker was at the centre of the Longton turnaround, claiming the wickets of Liam Kelter, Joynson and Tom Horne for just one run to wrap up the innings for 88.
Barker finished with 8-19 to take his wicket tally for the season to 47.
Longton remain second, but are 24 points behind Leek after the front-runners displayed their own powers of recovery to see off Little Stoke.
Set 185 to win, the Moorlanders slipped to 81-5 in reply, despite 41 from opener Alex Mellor.
However, Neal Lafford went on the attack with 73 not out, which included eight fours and five sixes, in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 107 with South African Leodolff Potgieter (38no) to secure the spoils.
Little Stoke had earlier been indebted to 53 apiece from Richard Adams and Ryan Cryer for their 184-8. Paul Hammersley picked up 4-49.
Champions Wood Lane climbed up to third place with a 34-run success over Cheadle.
Steven Brierley (42no) and Jamie Jervis (39) formed the backbone of Wood Lane's 147-9.
James Sellers and Marlon Martin bowled unchanged throughout the innings to claim 6-71 and 3-62 respectively.
Former Staffordshire batsman Paul Shaw led the response with 42, but he received precious little support as the run chase folded to 113 all out.
Asad Ali (5-48) and Steve Norcup (4-33) instigated their downfall.
Porthill Park and Burslem shared the points at Festival Heights.
Three wickets apiece from paceman Phil Adams (3-38) and spinner Michael Brown (3-48) dismissed Porthill Park for 151. Chris Lowndes' unbeaten 63 guided Burslem to 124-2 at stumps.
Checkley and Stone also had to be content with a draw from their clash at Four Trees.
John Pickles' 42, allied to 34 from Nick Hunt, under-pinned Checkley's 128-6. Calum Price captured 3-39.
In a weather-restricted 36-over run chase, Stone closed on 84-8, with Richard Cooper picking up 4-21.