ASHTON-on-Mersey fell to a disappointing defeat at Port Sunlight which has thrown their promotion credentials into doubt.

On a day where pitches around the county showed the effect of heavy rain in the week, Ashton unsurprisingly decided to bowl first on winning the toss.

The early stages went well as the home side struggled against the probing medium pace of Lee Heap, who struck early to reduce Port Sunlight to 8-2.

With batting conditions challenging, Ashton continued to make inroads.

But gradually Port Sunlight got to grips with the task, with their middle order working hard to make the most of anything loose from the Ashton attack.

A number of fielding lapses did not help and Ashton paid the price as Tyler Smith glued the innings together with a watchful 52.

Wickets in hand proved invaluable for Port Sunlight as the final overs saw some big hitting to take the score to an above-par 168.

Heap was the bowling pick with 2-16.

In reply Ashton struggled from the outset to come to terms with the task.

With a batting line-up which is at its best on firm true surfaces, the challenges of a wicket that required patience and craft to keep runs flowing was one that Ashton failed to meet.

Only when Mark Weighill came to the crease did the batting effort look suited to the day, but by that stage he was having to both score runs and protect the Ashton tail.

The runs mounted and, for a fleeting moment, an unlikely victory was scented but the loss of earlier wickets proved crucial as Ashton fell 22 runs short. Weighill was last out for a gutsy 52.

With Jimmy Roberts taking the bowling honours for Port Sunlight with 4-49, Ashton were left to ponder what might have been.

The loss drops Ashton outside the promotion places and leaves them with much to do in the league, starting at the Beets in the next clash against Barnton.