NETHERFIELD put up a great battle in a low-scoring clash, but had to give best to FBS Northern Premier League leaders St Annes, who beat them by three wickest in a close cotnest at Vernon Road.

Second-placed Leyland's maximum 15-point victory at Lancaster meant the defending champions were able to cut the gap to St Annes to ten points.

Netherfield foundered in the early stages of the match of the day, having been invited to bat, subsiding to 13-3 as the opening bowlers Ben Dowling and Ben Willis got on top.

St Annes were without appointed professional Dinuk Hettiarachchi and had Kiwi George Worker, who has played for Scotland this season in limited overs as a substitute.

He played an important role with his left-arm finger spin in reducing Chris Parry's side to 63-8 before young Ben Barrow (25) showed fighting spirit to get them to 110 all out in 38.3 overs.

Worker tppk 6-38 with St Annes supporting him superbly in the field led by skipper Andy Kellett leading the way with two superb catches.

When St Annes replied, Netherfield's Australian professional Ben Laughlin turned in a hostile 3-44 spell of 16 overs, while Stuart Nixon took 2 for 28 including the key wicket of former Pakistan Test batsman Atiq Uz-Zaman.

Young St Annes batsman Nathan Bolus countered with a brave 25 from 72 balls, but when he went the hosts were 81-7.

Experienced wicketkeeper Duncan Whalley (20no) and captain Andy Kellett (6no) had the last say, however, sharing a match-winning partnership of 31 to guide St Annes to a vital three-wicket win.

Kendal's home match with Chorley at a damp Shap Road was washed out after heavy showers plagued the Lake District.

(from information supplied by the NPL website, courtesy of Mike Latham)