WOODBANK beat Prestwich on Saturday to maintain their slim hopes of snatching the GMCL Premier Division title from Flixton, all but ending their rivals’ own chances in the process.

Hosts Woodbank chased 142 to win a hard-fought affair by four wickets with nearly 10 overs to spare.

It was their 12th win from 18 games and leaves them second in the table and 10 points behind Flixton with four games left to play and a maximum of six points on offer for a win.

Prestwich are two points further back, so they really do have an uphill struggle.

Both sides went into this clash knowing the loser would effectively face elimination from the race.

Prestwich, invited to bat, were bowled out for 141 inside 45 overs as veteran seamer Steve Dearden claimed 3-33 from 11 overs. Another seamer Chris Read added 3-8 from 3.5 overs as he helped to mop up the tail.

In reply, the hosts slipped to 58-4 when captain Anthony Harris fell, but they were indebted to professional Phil Hayes’ 106-ball 47 and Lewis McIntosh’s 37 off 52 balls.

They shared a crucial 82 for the fifth wicket before both fell with the score on 140.

Dearden came in and capped a memorable day by slog-sweeping his eighth ball for four over mid-wicket to win the game.

“It was very much in the balance at 50-odd for four,” said Harris.

“Our pro has batted really well and steadied the ship. It was a shame he wasn't there at the end.

“It was a decent pitch which did a bit early doors. We just managed to sneak a couple out and go from there.

“What is strange is that I mentioned about (spinner) Nick Kennedy getting a lot of wickets and only bowling in his trainers a couple of weeks ago. Well, he’s leant them to Steve Dearden, and he’s taken three-for. We had a good laugh about it in the changing room.

“Steve bowled really well and put it in the right areas. He used to have a yard, but he’s 60 years old, so he lost that a long time ago.

“It was a seamer’s track, so Nick wasn't required.

“Nick’s a postman who’s always on his feet, so struggles with them. He’d like to play in his flip flops if he could. He had another pair of trainers on. They were his drinking trainers!”

Unfortunately for Woodbank, they have slipped up in recent weeks to undermine their title chances. On the final Saturday in July, they beat Flixton to take a one-point lead at the top. But they lost their next two games to Egerton and Heywood.

“We’ve definitely slipped up, and it’s disappointingly in Flixton’s hands,” added Harris. “We’re going to have to win our last four and hope for a favour.

“But it’s always nice to beat Prestwich. They’re a big rival of ours. There’s been a few big games between us, and we’ve beaten them twice this season.

“We have Roe Green on Saturday. They’re a bit of a bogey team for us, but hopefully we’ll get the right result.”