OULTON Park lifted the Cheshire Cup for a fourth time on Sunday following a thrilling final against league rivals Neston.

The teams could not be separated on the scoreboard, both scoring 206, but the men from Little Budworth were crowned champions because they lost fewer wickets.

It is fitting that opener Danny Leech, on the field for their previous triumph 11 years ago against New Brighton, was chosen afterwards as a close contest’s outstanding performer.

He shared in a partnership worth 123 runs for the third wicket with Mark Latham (41) after they came together at 16-2.

Leech scored 95, finding the boundary nine times and hitting two maximums, before he fell to Guy Reeve.

The home team’s innings lost momentum following his departure, but closed on 206-8 thanks to knocks from captain Patrick Roberts (15) and Ben Gibbon (14).

Ashley Davies, with 4-49, was the pick of Neston’s bowling attack along with Reeve (3-40).

SCORECARD: Oulton Park 206-8 Neston 206-9

Neston, who had put in their opponents after winning the toss, suffered a disastrous start as slow bowler Muhammad Kashif (3-32) removed their top-order to leave them 27-3.

Leech continued a fine afternoon’s work when he joined the attack, removing both Luke Camden and James O’Neill in quick succession.

A seventh-wicket stand between Reeve (64) and Davis (39 off 36 balls)) added 77 to their side’s total before the latter was run out by Kashif.

Reeve scored only three fours after facing 94 balls, and when he was bowled Leech (3-25) it felt like a decisive blow.

Matt Stewart (19) and Luke Jones (24no) put on 40 for the ninth wicket though to keep alive Neston’s hopes before Matt Parkinson (1-28) bowled the former.

They ran out of time to celebrate an unlikely victory, instead falling agonisingly short at 206-9.

Instead Oulton Park, who won three successive finals between 2005 and 2007, got their hands on the trophy once more.

They conclude a first season back in the Cheshire County League’s Premier Division at home to title-favourites Nantwich on Saturday.