TOFT lost a high-scoring encounter with county league title-hopefuls Nantwich last weekend, but can take heart from a gallant attempt to win a rain-affected game.

The Dabbers ran up 251-3 before declaring after 34 overs, led by Ireland international Niall O’Brien who plundered 135 not out off 80 balls.

Luke Robinson (57no) scored quickly too in an unbroken partnership for the fourth wicket worth 155 runs.

Andrew Jackson took 2-54 for the visitors, who had 42 overs to reach their target.

Openers Henry Hughes (27) and Tom Forster (33) raced to 62 in a dozen overs before they both fell to Cheshire pace-man Ollie Freckingham (3-74).

Rob Jones (25) was next to fall, while James Scott (41 off 32 balls) kept the men from Booth’s Park in contention.

They needed 67 runs off the final 10 overs with four wickets remaining, and captain Toby Drummond (34) led by example during an adventurous innings.

However fading light favoured the home team’s seamers, and Jimmy Warrington (3-83) and Oliver Griffiths (2-35) took the remaining wickets to leave Toft all out for 224 with a dozen balls left.

It leaves Toft, who host Timperley on Saturday, fourth in the Premier Division table with four games left.

After an anticipated clash between leaders Chester Boughton Hall and champions Alderley Edge was called off, Nantwich rise to second with a 12-point gap to top spot.

Play starts in this weekend’s games at 12.30pm.

Toft’s seconds proved too strong for their Nantwich counterparts, increasing their lead at the table’s summit to 46 points.

They restricted the Dabbers to 150-8 at Booth’s Park, where James Hodgson (4-41) was the pick of the hosts’ bowling attack, supported by Pete Talbot (2-49) and captain Paul Ashley (2-34).

In-form Andrew Bones (42) led the home team to victory at 151-7, with Matt Cornes (34no) striking a six to settle the outcome in style.

They head to Timperley next.

Toft’s thirds are on course to win the Sunday Central Division after a 56-run victory at their Elworth counterparts that propelled them to top spot at their hosts’ expense.

The Knutsford outfit posted 190-6 after being put in, with Tom Maddocks (50) the pick of their batsmen.

Elworth toiled to keep up with the required run-rate though, and succumbed for 134 as they tried to catch up.

Hodgson (4-31) completed a productive weekend with another four-wicket haul, supported by Richard Scott (2-26).

Macclesfield fourths visit this weekend.