HENRY Thompson’s batting knock proved the decisive factor as Netherfield fell agonisingly short of toppling reigning champions Leyland at The Stanning Memorial Ground.

Thompson struck 86 – the only half century of the clash – as Leyland were bowled out for 144 after 57 overs, with seamer Nathan Chambers claiming a five-wicket haul.

In reply, despite Marc Brown, John Huck and Brad Earl all getting starts, the visitors were dismissed for 135, with David Makinson and Tayyab Afsar each taking four wickets.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Saliya Saman claimed a wicket with his second ball of the opening over as Luis Reece edged to Joe Atkinson at gully.

Reece, who started the season opening the batting for Lancashire, departed for zero with Alex Ross – second only to Jamie How in the division’s batting averages – following soon after.

Ross struck three boundaries before being bowled by Mark Clarkson for 13 with Leyland struggling at 23-2 before Daniel Lamb and Thompson initiated a mini revival.

The duo shared a stand of 43 before Chambers claimed the first of his five victims as Lamb holed out to Ben Phillips in the covers after amassing 17.

This triggered the loss of four wickets for just eight runs as Chambers took centre stage, bowling Chris Parkinson for a four-ball duck to leave Leyland 66-4.

Worse was to follow for the hosts as Chambers trapped Nathan McDonnell in front for four, with Andrew Makinson falling the same way two balls later.

Chambers’ five-wicket haul was completed by dismissing Karl Cross LBW for ten shortly after Leyland brought up three figures, with the hosts struggling at 100-7.

Throughout this chaos, Thompson continued to bat majestically, striking 16 fours and clearing the boundary ropes once on his way to a 117-ball 86.

Clarkson trapped Thompson in front and also accounted for Leyland skipper David Makinson as Saman bowled Afsar for two, with the hosts all out for 144.

Chasing a relatively low score for victory, Netherfield reached 20 without loss before two quick-fire wickets ensured Leyland retained a firm interest in proceedings.

Ben Barrow was the first to go while on seven, caught behind by Thomas Murray off the bowling of Reece as Phillips fell the same way off Cross for one.

Slipping to 21-2, Brown and Huck started to rebuild the innings and duly added 69 runs for the third wicket before Brown picked out Afsar at long on off David Makinson to walk for 38.

Needing a further 55 for victory with seven wickets in hand, Netherfield looked well set for victory although similar to their opponents the Parkside Road club suffered a middle order collapse.

After hitting four fours and a six, Huck departed for 36, caught by Thompson off Afsar, with the same bowler trapping Atkinson in front four balls later – as three wickets fell with the score on 90.

Afsar was proving a tricky customer and saw Saman pick out Lamb at gully before Earl and Brendan Herron joined forces to reignite Netherfield’s hunt for victory.

The pair took the score to 124 before Earl was stumped off Afsar for 25 with Netherfield still requiring a further 21 runs for victory.

David Makinson proved adept at mopping up the tail, trapping Clarkson in front for three as Ryan Wilson was caught at long off by Afsar for a first-ball duck.

Chambers found the boundary rope although Leyland secured victory by bringing to an end Herron’s 49-ball stay at the crease for nine runs, with Nethefield all out for 135.