ABERDEENSHIRE and Arbroath continue to battle it out at the top of the Eastern Premier Division after comfortable wins yesterday.
The pair had been due to meet in a potential title decider last week only for that pivotal encounter to be washe out and neither had any margin for error going into the last three weeks of the campaign.
Aberdeenshire, enjoying just a two-point advantage at the start of play, made the short journey to People's Park for a derby clash with Stoneywood-Dyce and were intent on avenging a defeat earlier in the season. They did so in style with a seven-wicket win, an outcome which had been assured almost as soon as Tyler Buchan won the toss and put the home side in to bat.
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Buchan kept things tight with a succession of maidens while Harsha Cooray and Rory Martin offered the best support on the day. Teenager Martin was the pick of the visiting attack with 3-12 from seven overs as the Stoneywood batsmen struggled in the absence of their captain Michael Leask who is on trial at Northants.
Indeed it was left to Michael Louw, batting at No 8, to top-score with 25 as the home team stuttered to 108 all out. Shire lost three wickets on the way to overhauling that meagre tally, but maintained a healthy scoring rate to get there with 27 overs to spare, Chris Venske marking his return from injury with an unbeaten 45 including six boundaries.
Arbroath were just as comfortable in taking the points at Lochlands as SMRH plunged deeper into relegation trouble. Batting first, the Angus side recovered from the early loss of former Scotland under-19 captain Ross McLean for 12 before solid contributions throughout the order put them on course for a sizeable tally.
Brendon Ford led the way with 49 before Hamish Bartlett and Fraser Burnett provided further substance. Burnett, having hit two boundaries and one maximum, perished in the pursuit of quick runs, but Bartlett went on to top-score with 71.
There was some more late hitting with Greg Peal and Calvin Burnett both registering half-centuries to take the tally beyond the 300 mark. The SMRH reply never got off the ground as Arbroath picked up wickets to win by an impressive 192 runs.
Meanwhile, the Western Union came out of its Commonwealth Games-enforced closedown in time for Ayr to reinforce their position at the top of the table - though only just.
They appeared in control after dismissing East Kilbride for 115 at Cambusdoon with Scott McElnea claiming 5-26. Ayr looked comfortable at 98-5 in their reply before a hat-trick from Moneeb Iqbal sparked jitters. However, Callum Leck held his nerve with 16no to see his side over the line.
The Lanarkshire derby at Bothwell Castle went in favour of Uddingston though that looked unlikely when they mustered just 140 against Drumpellier. Ricky Bawa sparked a fightback by bowling Muhammad Ramzan with the first ball of the reply before the Coatbridge team crumbled to 89 all out.