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North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Cricket League Premier Division

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 25, 2014

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LEEK missed a great opportunity to inflict a first defeat of the season on leaders Stone at sunny Highfield on Saturday.

Instead, the defending Premier Division champions are left still looking to add to their solitary victory of the 2014 campaign.

The result was especially disappointing for Leek opening batsman Chris Beech, who top-scored with 82.

Leek skipper Greg Willott said: "The lads in the middle got stuck and although we played nicely, we left ourselves too much to do.

"If we'd had another four overs we'd have won, but you know at the start you've got 55 and we didn't move things along quickly enough.

"It's about the players out in the middle managing the game situation. We can't have our top order going at three-an-over and then expect the bowlers to go at fives at the end.

"Personally, I think we should have won the game but I'm not too displeased.

"Alex [Mellor] and Beechy [Chris Beech] batted well and we've given ourselves a chance of beating the leaders. Hopefully we've turned the corner with his performance.

"We knew the pitch was going to be flat, but we thought we could know over three or four with the new ball.

"It offered a bit early on and we wanted to capitalise on that, and then let the spinners go to work.

"We've bowled well as a unit, but Dan Lunn has come in and held their innings together for them.

"Stone ran really well between the wickets and that's something we can learn from, too."

Stone, who were missing the injured Phil Cheadle and unavailable Richard Harvey from their top order, were bowled out for 213 in their final over after being invited to bat by Willott.

Daniel Lunn (64) seized his chance to register a maiden premier Division half-century, while in-form all-rounder Matthew Coxon chipped in with 37.

Paul Hammersley got 4-48 for Leek, helped the Moorlanders' cause with some impressive fielding, which included a superb running catch at mid-off by Ollie Mellor to account for Matthew Hicks (22).

Beech and Mellor (36) aside, the Leek run chase proved to be a stop-start affair, as they let the run rate steadily climb to an unmanageable level.

Stone left-arm spinner Steve Morgan claimed 3-55 to help keep Leek in check, before play came to a close with the hosts on 181-6.

Leek recovered from their disappointment the following day to beat Wombourne away in the second round of the Staffordshire Cup.

Their 46-run victory earned them a third round clash with Moorlands rivals Cheadle at Highfield on Sunday, July 13.

Leek closed their innings on 319-5, thanks to splendid contributions from Nadeem Malik (45), Greg Willott (50no), Ollie Mellor (52no) and Chris Beech (78), and then restricted Wombourne to 273-8 in reply.

Ruan Markram scored a magnificent knock of 139 for the hosts.

Cheadle won by 18 runs away to Onneley, aided by some fine bowling from William Dobbie (3-20) and Nikethana Sujith (3-25).

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