1st XI go top with a nail-biting win

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Audlem 1st XI secured a tense nine-run victory away at Rylands on Saturday in a match that at one stage looked to have been won by a huge margin.

After the rain the night before, Audlem were surprised to turn up to a dry ground. The wicket looked soft and seemed a bowl-first track. Therefore, it was not surprising that, when Rylands' captain won the toss, he chose to bowl first.

Openers Andy Rothwell and Stu Stanway found quick scoring hard due to the difficult nature of the pitch. Rothwell, however, hit two clean fours before he was trapped lbw for 10. Skipper Richard Wilson joined Stanway and set about building a base for the innings and had to battle hard for 20 overs.

Stroke making was particularly difficult, and the two batsmen, one left-handed and one right-handed, looked to rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking. As the two batted longer, run scoring became easier and easier, with Stanway looking particularly strong.

The partnership was ended at 84 when Stanway was bowled for 46, by Andy Calvert, who later dismissed Wilson for 40, leaving Audlem 118 for 3.

Despite being well set with wickets in hand, Audlem struggled to get the momentum they desired from the last 10 overs, but useful contributions from Qhama Matthews (22), Callum Mcilveen (16 not out), Simon Swift (9 not out) and Kemal Toraman (29) helped Audlem get to 193 for 7 from their 45 overs.

When Rylands started their reply Mcilveen got an early breakthrough. Fast bowler Stu Elkes took out the heart of the Rylands middle order, leaving them in peril at 27 for 5. Elkes' four wickets were helped by a brilliant stumping and a good catch by Stanway, standing up to the batsman.

At this stage it seemed as though the game would soon be over, but a terrific partnership from Alan Brady, who finished 113 not out, and Eddie Platt, (45) threatened to take Rylands over the line.

Brady's drop on 0 could have proved costly, if it wasn't for Mcilveen's second spell. His three wickets changed the course of the match, supported by the pressure built by Spinner Neil Humphries at the other end. The final wicket was a run out, leaving Rylands on 184 all out.

Elkes finished with 4 for 18 and Mcilveen 4 for 55. Audlem gained 25 points for the second week running to lead Division 2 outright and Rylands 8.

On Saturday the 1st XI welcome Frodsham to the Gorse Croft for a 1.30pm start.

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