Sandiacre Town lost further ground to title-rivals Swarkestone as Eckington battled to a draw at Longmoor Lane on Saturday.
The visitors stubbornly progressed to 185 for 8 in response to the home side’s challenging 249 for 5, and with Swarkestone winning away at Chesterfield it means Sandiacre are now 11 points adrift at the top of the table.
James Chapman (54) was solid at the top of the order for Sandiacre and he needed to be after Tom Dawson and Kyle Heyns (2-63) had grabbed an early wicket apiece to leave the home side on a shaky 35 for 2.
Wayne Dye accounted for the dangerous Chesney Hughes with the score on 53 but Chapman then combined well with David Jordison (24) and the score moved steadily on to 125 for 3.
Archie Gleadall (3-49) took three wickets either side of an Adam Leonard wicket and Sandiacre were in trouble at 145 for 7, but the tail wagged in fine style with John Jordison (46no) and Dan Wheeldon (37) producing a quick-fire, and timely, eighth wicket stand of 54.
Jordison plundered on in the company of Jono Clare (12*) to add a further quick 50 runs and Sandiacre went into tea with momentum well and truly on their side.
Eckington needed a solid start after the break and they got it - Michael Spence (41) and Tom Dawson (35) easing their side to a comfortable 70 for 1.
Four cheap wickets then fell, three of them to John Jordison (4-47), and at 114 for 5 Eckington still had plenty of work to do to salvage a share of the points.
Clare (2-47) remained a threat but Liam Musselwhite (29) and Adam Bridgman (34) stood firm to add a crucial 36 for the sixth wicket.
Wheeldon (2-56) returned to claim the wicket of Bridgman but Eckington held station and went home with a thoroughly deserved haul of nine important points.
Sandiacre’s second XI were also held to a draw but hosts Nutbrook claimed the lion’s share of the points.
Batting first, Nutbrook lost two of their top three without scoring, but Matt Wakefield soon came in to steady the ship and his 77 was the cornerstone of their eventual total of 197-8, Michael Noble (3-44) eventually having him caught by Daniel Tucker. Kev Newbold (2-46), Jay Harper (2-66) and Adam Fearnley (1-37) got the other wickets.
Sandiacre’s innings also stuttered as opener Ally Leek was out for nought to become one of Max Magann’s four victims, but steady innings from Tucker (29), Gareth Goodall (33), and Neil MacNamee (30) held things together as the visitors ended on 162-8 to get the losing draw.
*For a photo slideshow from the Nutbrook v Sandiacre 2nd XI game, visit our website at www.ilkestonadvertiser.co.uk.
The third XI also endured a frustrating day as they were beaten at home to Ashover.
Sandiacre batted first and a good opening stand of 53 from John Murfin and Chris Attwood (33) ended when Murfin was out for 27.
A mini-collapse saw 73-1 become 79-4 but a recovery of sorts resulted in Sandiacre ending their innings on 158-9.
Ashover were able to pass the target inside 36 overs, Elliot Dickens unbeaten on 40 to help his side over the line for the loss of five wickets.