DARWEN stretched their lead at the top of the Vaux Northern League thanks to a fine innings from professional Richard Petrie.

With neither of their closest rivals winning, Darwen's seventh league win in seven completed matches at Lancaster took them 22 points clear at the top of the table.

After winning the toss and asking Lancaster to bat, Darwen's four impressive bowlers took two wickets each, backed up by keen fielding, as their hosts were kept in a vice-like grip throughout their innings, rarely reaching a run rate of two runs per over as they were restricted to 109-8 from 50 overs.

Petrie was the cornerstone of Darwen's reply as, with time on his side, he accumulated runs sensibly to finish unbeaten on 68 as the Birch Hall side ran out comfortable winners with seven overs to spare.

A bye from the last ball of the final over gave Morecambe a thrilling victory over Chorley at Windsor Park. With the sides level on 161 runs and Morecambe's last pair at the crease, South African professional Ashwell Prince, who has reportedly recorded 10.4 for the 100 metres, sprinted the vital single as Josh Marquet's final delivery went through to the wicket keeper.

Prince ironically was only there as runner for the injured David Gudgeon whose 29 not out, together with a beefy 42 from Phil Thornton, had dug Morecambe out of serious trouble at 103-7. Marquet bowled with sustained hostility to take 4-48 but Chorley were let down by indifferent bowling from the other end. Earlier Chorley's 161-8 owed much to a fine knock from Roland Horridge (66) with late support from Michael Critchley (31).

Yesterday Chorley progressed to the regional final of the National Knockout competition with unexpected ease. Blackpool struggled to 122-5 from their 45 overs, Rex Purnell taking 2-10 from his nine overs.

An opening partnership of 121 carried Chorley to the brink of victory before Jim Fazackerley was out for 59. Neil Bannister finished on 55 not out as Chorley won by nine wickets. They will now visit Morecambe in the regional final on Sunday June 27.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.