HALE Barns first XI continued their recent poor form with a third successive league defeat at Alvanley as a result of another disappointing batting display.

Alex Ross was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets to restrict the hosts to just below 200 on a flat pitch, but just three batsmen reached double figures as Barns fell a distant 109 runs adrift.

It took them nine overs to strike with the ball as Ross removed Michael Rowlands for 11 following an opening stand of 29, but that proved to be the only early breakthrough as Stephen Charles and Mark Szymura built a steady partnership.

The pair added 59 before Szymura departed for 28 thanks to Sam Smith (1-20), while Tom Saddington (1-20) gained a dismissal of his own as Alvanley entered the final 12 overs on 111-3.

Rick Watt’s arrival at the crease upped the tempo significantly, while Charles continued to accumulate after passing 50, with the score quickly moving on to 175-3 with five overs remaining.

Ross (3-51) returned to the attack and claimed two key victims as Watt’s cameo eventually came to an end for 39 off 28 balls, while Charles fell for a more patient 74. There was also time for Jake Romer (1-37) and Joe Cooper (1-39) to take a wicket each to contain Alvanley to 197-8.

Confidence of producing a successful run chase was instantly dealt a blow when Matt Drury (2-14) sent back Cooper and Mike Hunter without scoring before Sam Smith also came and went for a duck thanks to Charles, who then removed Khurram Hussain (19) as the visitors collapsed to 19-4 from eight overs.

Charles soon broke through the resistance of Staniforth (nine), while spinner Toby Honeysett (1-25) also picked up a wicket to make things even worse for the away side at 37-6 after 20 overs.

Tommy Smith was able to occupy the crease by displaying terrific grit and determination, with Tom Saddington playing more fluently as he raced to a run-a-ball 24, although he was stumped off the bowling of Rowlands after a partnership of 40.

And things soon unravelled for Barns as Charles (5-17) took two quick wickets to earn his fifer, including Tommy Smith for a courageous 21 off 52 deliveries, while Rowlands (2-12) finished off the match with Barns making just 88 from 32.4 overs.

However, the firsts turned things around the following day as they defeated Barrow by two wickets to book their place in the Cheshire Shield final for a second consecutive season.

The holders were helped by a terrific spell by Cooper (4-16) and solid support from youngster Romer (2-24), but 99 not out from overseas batsman Iroshan De Silva helped Barrow to a competitive 192-7.

Having been restricted to 81-6, a magnificent 72-run partnership between Ross (40) and Sam Smith (44no) led the Barns revival, with the latter brilliantly guiding them to victory with two balls to spare.

Elsewhere, the second XI sealed their third victory in a row after a convincing 126-run win against Alvanley.

Clive Collins scored a magnificent unbeaten 101 as Barns declared on 218-8, while Peter Stubbs then took figures of 5-11 to lift the team to within nine points of the promotion places.