Preston had to settle for a draw away to Hemel Hempstead Town as rain played another annoying part in the Herts Cricket League.

The Championship match at Heath Park had begun well for the visitors with 56 runs registered without loss.

That was after 14 overs but the arrival of the wet stuff reduced the game to 37 overs for Preston and 33 for Hemel.

The Comet: James Stevens of Preston Cricket Club. Picture: PRESTON CCJames Stevens of Preston Cricket Club. Picture: PRESTON CC (Image: Preston Cricket Club)

With strategies duly altered, openers Ed Wharton (30) and James Stevens (34) let loose and there were admirable contributions from Phil Simpson (28) and Daniel Scholz (35) as they reached 186-7.

Wharton (2-40) and Scholz then came out firing in response, reducing the home side to 33-2, but 37 from Brett Penny gave Hemel the basis to secure a draw.

Preston were still battling though and an outstanding second spell from Scholz took him to 4-50 and the final score of 158-8 allowed the visitors to earn 14 points, moving them up to fifth in the standings and 35 clear of relegation.

The seconds lost in the final few balls to Division Five A leaders Leverstock Green, another game reduced in length due to the rain.

Batting first, Preston made an under-par 130-9, Ashley Catlin (36) and young Jacob Williamson (30) the main reason it got as high as it did.

The home attack bowled well though with Bhavin Patel taking 3-18 and David Fleckney 2-45.

However a sensible 56 from Nahim Iqbal, supported by 30 from Sam Revell swung the game towards Leverstock and they got to the three-wicket win with two balls to spare.

The thirds lost by five wickets to Cockfosters, having been bowled out for just 82, and the fourths lost by 53 runs to Stevenage fifths.

Iain Williamson took 3-6 while there was two wickets each for Ian Hamilton (2-19) and Andrew Riant (2-29).

However, only Craig Tennant made it into double figures with the bat, scoring 39.

Prashanth Kammari hit 60 for Stevenage with Jonathan Barton and Amey Salvi taking three wickets each.

Ickleford picked up a hugely important win in Division Two A, beating Watford Town by 15 runs.

It wasn't enough to lift them off the bottom of the table but they have now closed to just points behind Holtwhites Trinibis above them.

Their hosts are a further two places and 44 points ahead.

Ickleford got off to a flier with an opening 50 partnership with George Crouch (41) and Eden Scott (25) while Kmajed Khan, Axel Morris and Sam Draper all contributed to give Watford 159 to chase from 40 overs.

And Ickleford then made the perfect start in reply with Eswar Krishnamurthy (2-18) and Luke Marsden (2-22) in form.

The momentum continued with Axel Morris (2-21) and Nadeem Akhtar (3-24), meaning the home side were bowled out for 143.

Two rain delays didn't help the seconds as they lost by five wickets to Flamstead.

Ickleford finished on 117, with Dave Baker's 18 the top score, just ahead of youngster Will Macintosh on 17.

A bright spell from Ash Hussain brought him two wickets but Flamstead got home after 20 overs.

The thirds got back to winning ways with a seven-run success against Knebworth Park thirds.

Joe Dalrymple (52) and Matt Marsden (47) put on 96 and then an unbeaten 44 between Harry Chan (29*) and Mark Howard (16*) took Ickleford's total to 157-5, all after they were struggling at 4-3.

Knebworth were then bowled out for 150 off the final ball to seal the win.

James Kench led the bowling figures with 3-18 while Bharath Puttur (2-16) and Harry Chan (2-20) managed two wickets each.

Knebworth's star performers were Louis Hobbs (2-17), Iain Hildebrandt (2-17 and 20), Jonathan Cirkel (47) and Ryan Ellis (25).

Ickleford's Dalrymple then scored 96 not out to help the club's Sunday team to a thrilling two-wicket win against Luton Caribbean.

Richard Brown took 3-26 and Sam Guile 2-40.

Stevenage lost by three runs away to Berkhamsted in the same division, leaving them fourth in the table.

David Carr (41) and Conor Hayward (39) put on 84 for the opening wicket with Moses Anil getting 42.

There was another win for Knebworth Park at the top end of Division Two B - after a thumping 153-run win over rock bottom Hoddesdon.

They are still third but in hot pursuit of the two above them, West Herts and Eversholt, the latter up next at home.

This victory was dominated by a century from opening bat Haydon Bartlett Tasker, eventually sent back to the pavilion for 104.

Louis Champion chipped in with 55 as the pair put on 112 for the first wicket in 17 overs.

Others came in to support Tasker and there was a fine cameo of 22 in 13 balls from Owen Watkins as Park finished on 306.

Hoddesdon struggled to score under the pressure of Gareth Jones and Charlie Randall but it was the spin attack that did the main damage.

Skipper Matt Hutchinson took 2-49, Alex Richmond 4-17 and Dave Roberts 3-40 to wipe out the middle order and leave the innings done on 153. 

The seconds had their game against Lutonians washed out but the third and fourth teams were involved in thrilling finishes.

The fourths lost by one wicket to Baldock 3s after their young spinners almost turned the game on its head. 

Having made 135-9 from their 40 overs, Ryan Loonan on 39, Baldock looked in control with just 14 required.

Ahmed Abdi (2-22) and Finn Hobbs (1-20) suddenly sent the opposition down to nine wickets but the last pair were able to just about hold their nerve.

In Division One, both Letchworth and Hitchin won to keep their heads above the relegation waters.

Letchworth won by 120 runs away to Ampthill Town while Hitchin had a 96-run success at their Lucas Lane home against Langleybury.

Shaftab Khalid (38), Ollie Howell (36), Luke Day (36), Sanjay Chandarana (33) and Saad Waqas (27) were the main contributors in their 213-8 with Khalid the pick of the bowlers on 5-38.

Duncan Howells and Howell chipped in with 2-13 and 2-12 respectively.

Baldock's game with Langleybury was abandoned.