Ferguslie took a huge step towards Western Premier glory yesterday with a hard-fought 9-run win over closest challengers Clydesdale at sun-kissed Titwood.
A century from Michael English – his second of the season against the Glasgow team – allowed the visitors to set their rivals a challenging victory target of 250.
Clydesdale made a solid start to their chase and, with Richie Berrington in prime form, looked capable of pulling off the win they needed to stay in touch with the leaders.
Scotland star Berrington went on to record a magnificent 130 but the Paisley team showed the hallmark of champions, taking wickets at key moments to leave their opponents with too much to do in the closing overs.
Earlier Scotland prospect English lost his opening partner Gregor Preston-Jones in the first over as Ihtisham Malik struck but his 149-run stand with Elliot Moses put the Paisley men on track.
Cautious at first against some tight Dale bowling, English took 28 overs to compile his first 50 but accelerated impressively with some punishing shots including a bludgeoned six over wide long-on.
He reached three figures soon after but was caught on the boundary almost immediately as the home bowlers refused to throw in the towel.
The pursuit of quick runs towards the end came at a cost as wickets fell but Ferguslie were content with 249-8.
Champions Prestwick’s grip on the trophy was loosened further when their trip to Stirling resulted in a third consecutive defeat, a result which saw the New Williamfield side leapfrog their visitors.
Graeme Taylor produced the standout innings of 64 as Stirling posted 160 before a superb display in the field saw Prestwick dismissed for 136, Akram Shakoor and Mo Ali each claiming three wickets.
Elsewhere, Poloc made light work of West of Scotland in a low-scoring encounter with West of Scotland at Shawholm.
The corresponding fixture on the opening day had gone down to the final over but there was no such drama on this occasion as Poloc dismissed West for 94 with three wickets each for Jurie Snyman and Ahmed-Raza Hanif.
Poloc lost four wickets during the chase but Coenie Nel’s unbeaten 23 eased them to the target.
It was much closer at Cambusdoon where Ayr came up just five runs short of Uddingston’s 253, Jimmy Sholto-Douglas posting 101 for the visitors before Anwar Hafeez’s 108no proved in vain against his former team.
Jesse Smit scored 73no as Dumfries chased Greenock’s 194 at Nunholm to finally record their first win of the campaign – by four wickets.
EASTERN Premier leaders Grange maintained their perfect record with a ninth straight win though they were pushed all the way at Mannofield by an Aberdeenshire side who were bidding to end a run of three consecutive defeats.
Former Scotland stars Neil McCallum and Gordon Goudie led the way with 84no and 44 as Grange posted a challenging 234-6.
In reply Callum Mackaness hit 64 as ‘Shire came up just 16 runs short, youngster Charlie Peet claiming 4-26.
Champions Heriot’s appear to be the only side capable of catching Grange after they maintained their challenge with a tight three-wicket win at Corstorphine.
After the loss of three early wickets, a century stand between Majid Haq (56) and Jacob Wood (48) helped the hosts recover to 196 though Elliot Ruthven’s four wickets appeared to have given Heriot’s the edge.
Joe Kinghorn-Gray then took out the first three batsmen to raise home hopes but Michael Shean’s 112-ball 91 proved decisive for the Goldenacre side.
Watsonians continued their mini-revival with victory at Myreside over a Forfarshire side whose fading title hopes receded further.
Mike Carson was the key figure for ‘Sonians with four wickets and 76 runs in a four-wicket success.
Arbroath geared-up for today’s Scottish Cup quarter-final clash with Uddingston by claiming a morale-boosting win over Stewarts Melville at Inverleith.
Chasing 181 after Shaun Christie and Craig Ramsay had each claimed three wickets, the Angus side were indebted to stand-in captain Ross McLean whose 76 guided them to a four-wicket success.
Arun Pillai claimed 4-13 before hitting 67no as Carlton piled on the misery for the bottom side Glenrothes with a nine-wicket success at Grange Loan.