INJURY-hit Timperley battled to a well-earned draw away against title rivals Nantwich to stay at the top of the Cheshire County Cricket League Premier Division.

Going into the match Timperley had a 22-point cushion and were the only undefeated team in the division.

Winning was always going to be a tough ask, though, as Nathan Brown’s team were plagued with injury and unavailability, which saw both opening bowlers and Lancashire second XI batsman Brooke Guest all out of action. 

Nantwich won the toss and elected to bat first under cloudy skies.

Steve Rimmer made a patient 68, but the standout performer was Ireland international wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien.

He carved out 18 fours and four sixes on his way to a ruthless 133 from just 117 balls.

With such an excellent platform set by the openers, and a Timperley attack lacking bite, Nantwich pushed on and declared after 49 overs on 298-6. 

The early wicket of Furqan Shafiq (eight) was a major blow to any slim chance of chasing such a big target, and after a flurry of wickets Timperley found themselves rocking at 74-4.

As has been the case all season, though, they showed some mettle when it counted, and this week was the turn of Grant Hodnett who scored 119 not out from 172 balls.

He batted with composure and showed all his class to help settle the nerves of others and repel the Nantwich attack, including former Leicestershire seamer Oliver Freckingham.

Timperley saw out their 58 overs to hold on for a well-earned draw at 185-6 and maintain their status at the top of the tree, albeit with their cushion down to just 14 points. 

 With the hopeful return of several sidelined players, Timperley travel to Neston on Saturday as they continue their title push.