LULLINGTON Park took a massive step towards Premier League survival at the weekend.
A five-wicket victory over local rivals Dunstall was followed by a 15 point draw against Chesterfield as Park moved 19 points clear of the bottom two.
Against the Stags at Deer Park on Saturday, almost every decision was difficult and potentially controversial.
Players on both sides longed for DRS technology as the match yielded six lbws with numerous other appeals for lbw, caught or stumped turned down.
The result was a second win of the season for Lullington.
The victory was based on a classy and chanceless 86 not out from South African Martin Walters to follow a similar innings that had secured the Burton Breweries Cup last weekend.
Matt Sanderson also made crucial contributions with 5-36 with his off-spin and 28 in a fourth wicket partnership of 82 with Walters.
Sam Eaton and Andy Malkin had got the home side off to a good start with an opening partnership of 56.
Park welcomed back Graham Dent from what had seemed a season-ending back injury and he trapped his former colleague Eaton lbw for 18.
Malkin (27) was run out going for an overthrow and Dunstall lost ten wickets in adding only 96 to the openers' efforts.
Callum Brodrick made an impressive 28 before being lbw trying to sweep Sanderson.
Skipper Matt Gouldstone ran past one from Sanderson to be stumped by Richard Green, his 16th stumping of the season. He had made 20.
The only other significant batting contribution from a side missing Scott Elstone and James Benstead came from Martin Clewley with a swashbuckling 27 batting at the elevated position of number seven. He ensured that Dunstall got two batting points.
Tom Hill on a brief return from Australia looked good but made only 12 before becoming another lbw victim for Sanderson.
The inexperienced Dunstall tail collapsed and Park were chasing a below-par total of 152.
Dent finished on 3-50, which took him to 150 Premier League and Cup wickets.
Six of Sanderson's last eight overs were maidens so that he finished with the impressive figures of 15 overs, seven maidens 5-32.
Dunstall had no experienced seam bowling in the side and therefore opened with spin twins Clewley and Steve Brodrick.
Clewley had immediate success having Jamie Goodwin out second ball lbw playing no shot. Park found themselves 1-1 after four overs.
Brodrick had another lbw shout upheld against Green (16) and Tom Caron lost patience to hole out to Eaton from Clewley's bowling.
At 26-3, Park could have been in trouble but Walters drove and pulled magnificently with 16 fours in his 88-ball innings. He was well supported by Sanderson and a 15 not out cameo from skipper Jonny Shales, which saw Park home to a welcome 27 points.
Clewley finished with the best bowling return of 3-49.
Lullington then came close to making it two wins in a weekend as Chesterfield held on for a draw at Edingale Lane.
Park will rue seven dropped catches in an otherwise fine performance but will settle for another 15 points in their fight against relegation.
It was a day for unsung heroes. Caron gave his best ever performance finishing unbeaten on 98, unlucky to miss out on a maiden century. Danny Gough and Nick Richards grasped three wickets each against a Chesterfield side missing only skipper Simon Lacey who has a back injury.
Acting captain Ben Slater asked Park to bat and things looked bad at 27-3 as Matt Higginbottom had James Doherty caught at slip by Ross Whiteley for five.
Michael Deane induced a nick from Green when he had 12 and then bowled in-form Walters without him playing a shot.
Sanderson and Caron slowly rebuilt with a partnership of 85 on a bowler friendly pitch, with both curbing their normal aggressive style.
The three remaining wickets fell to veteran spinner Brian Gladwin. Sanderson was caught behind for 23, and the out-of-form Shales edged to Whiteley at slip for one.
Joe Cain hit three fours and a six in a valuable 41-ball 30 as Park increased the pace and Caron plundered the last few overs to finish agonizingly short of the magic hundred.
A score of 188 was 20-30 runs short of target but would be competitive if Park bowled well. They did.
Derbyshire's Slater looked to have been brilliantly stumped by Green off Gough but the umpire disagreed. He did not last long as Gough dived to snatch a fine return catch. The County opener had made nine.
Dent got the next two. Matt Fletcher was caught behind for 14 and Mykylo Bird caught at cover by Sanderson for 22.
Worcestershire's Ross Whiteley can score quickly and Park gave him two lives before Gough had him caught by Green for 28.
Chesterfield also relied on one of their lesser known players. Paul Burdett finished 70 not out as wickets fell steadily around him.
Sanderson has been in the wickets recently but it was his spin partner Richards, playing only his fourth first team game, who shone.
Drage Thompson (11) had given Green his third catch – Gough the bowler – but Richards had three batsmen caught, Higginbottom at slip for two, Chris Worthy at cover for six and Deane for one.
Gladwin threatened briefly with 15 as Chesterfield edged towards the target but he was bowled by Sanderson to leave Chesterfield 171-9.
Burdett took eight from an over from the returning Dent but it was left to Oxford University undergraduate Jonny Marsden to play out Richards to secure the draw.
One win from their remaining three matches, starting with Denby at home, should be enough to secure Park's safety.