ASHTON-on-Mersey moved into the promotion places in the Cheshire Cricket League despite falling just short of victory at Weaverham.

Choosing to bat first in an attempt to grab maximum points from the game, Ashton found themselves on a slow and sticky wicket which negated the potential of their fluent stroke-makers.

Opener Akash Patel grafted hard for an excellent 41, before Ed Faulkner and skipper James Marshall also contributed 40s to keep the score moving.

Ashton declared their innings on 181-7 with maximum batting points posted, hoping the home team might be interested in chasing the target.

But from ball one it was clear that Weaverham had come to survive rather than play, and the Ashton bowlers toiled to make a breakthrough.

With the Weaverham opening four batsmen taking 114 balls to score just 19 runs, this was always going to be a hard challenge for the Ashton attack.

But with skipper Marshall and spinner Faulkner bowling in tandem, breakthroughs were made.

Some aggression was shown by the Weaverham middle-order, but when they fell, the home side’s tail again withdrew into their shell.

Ashton stuck to the task and when the ninth wicket fell with five overs left, hopes of the win were high.

But Weaverham veterans Dave Armstrong and Jon Lightfoot dug in and, despite some scares, held out for the draw as they closed on 112-9.

Marshall took the bowling honours with well-deserved figures of 5-30.

Ashton will be disappointed not to force a win, but with results in other games going their way, they now stand second in the table with one game left in the season.

Promotion is now in their hands, and will be secured if they can force a maximum-points win in the final match against Stockport Trinity at the Beets.

Ashton’s second XI face a different task next week as they are in a relegation dogfight after falling to a heavy defeat against Bollington at home.

Bollington made 205-8 (Matt Dawson 67, Ged McKernan 56), before Ashton totalled 68 all out (Julian McGovern 8-31).

The Ashton ladies team rounded off a good season with a fine win against a strong Upton side.

Restricting the visitors to 140, Ashton chased down the runs for the loss of five wickets, completing the victory with one ball to spare.