A SPECTACULAR batting collapse saw Ashton-on-Mersey fall to a heavy loss in their top-of-the-table clash at Haslington in Cheshire Cricket League Division One.

Winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, Ashton produced a fine bowling and fielding performance to strangle the early batting efforts of the league leaders.

The Haslington batsmen struggled against the pace of Matt Bradshaw and the spin of Peter Hatzoglou with the run rate slow in the opening overs.

But, crucially, wickets were kept intact, with Jack Moran leading the way with a patient 61.

The home side were able to hit out towards the end of the innings, although Ashton would have been delighted to limit the run chase to below 160 at the halfway stage as Haslington finished on 156-8.

Ed Faulkner once again reaped the wicket reward, finishing with 4-50.

But Ashton’s high hopes of a victory were soon dashed as their batsmen came up against the league's leading wicket taker Imran Khan.

Bowling with intelligence and skill, the Haslington quick found bounce and movement from the wicket with the Ashton batsmen unable to cope with the challenge.

Wickets tumbled to a mixture of excellent bowling and rash shot selection, with few of the Ashton line-up looking willing to apply themselves in the manner that might be expected of a team with promotion aspirations.

The whole sorry story was over in 27 overs with Ashton finishing on a meagre 81, and Imran posting superb and deserved figures of 6-35.

The loss will be a wake-up call for the Ashton side and they will be looking to bounce back against Kingsley in the next league match at The Beets.

There was far better news from the Ashton second team who recorded a fine win against promotion hopefuls Widnes.

Widnes were all out for 136 (Harry Vogt 6-48), before Ashton reached 138-2.