Himley have emerged as serious contenders for this year's Premier Division title after dishing out a second successive defeat to faltering tabletoppers Barnt Green.

Greg Wright's Himley have seemingly come from nowhere to stake their challenge with four victories in six games and the last three on the spin.

But it is the latest of this timely run of wins, against the leaders on their own patch at Cherry Hill Road, which has really sent shivers down Barnt Green spines.

Prolific Himley seamer Tim Heap led the way as the visiting pace attack found plenty of help in the Green wicket to dismiss the host inside 35 overs for just 88.

Backed by two men at either end of the New Road age scale, Worcestershire Academy youngster Stuart Wedge and the county's cricket development officer Stuart Lampitt, Heap bowled unchanged to take seven for 26.

Only captain Richard Illingworth, who top scored with 32 before being outfoxed by his old Worcestershire team-mate Lampitt, and young Kieran Rees managed double figures.

In reply Wright finished with 33 not out, well supported by Chris Pearce's 30, as the visitors cruised home with seven wickets and half the afternoon to spare.

Himley have not forgotten how they were robbed of the title three years ago by Halesowen's late five-match winning burst. But, having moved to within seven points of the leaders, they are now in the frame to do the same.

Their credentials face a tough examination next week when they will be looking to win at Old Hill, who are still not out of the title race themselves after bouncing back with a five-wicket win on Saturday at Coventry.

But, even then, Himley would still have to beat bottom club Leamington at home on the final day. And given the way this ultra-competitive league has shaped up, that would be no formality.

Having looked relegation certainties only nine days ago, a second successive win has given Leamington hope.

Had it not been for their six-point penalty imposed last month for failing to phone through results, they would already be off the bottom. But Leamington's discovery of a winning formula means that a mere 87 points separate all 12 sides, compared with the 195-point chasm at season's end a year ago.

It also means there are now four clubs trying to dodge the two relegation spots, Leamington and Moseley, along with Walsall and Halesowen, who play each other next week.

Leamington's hopes were raised by a Francois Klopperinspired win at Wellington. He bowled unchanged to take five for 87 and limit the home side to 167 for eight, of which Chris Martin made 71. And Klopper was still there at the end on 33 to see his side home with two overs and just two wickets to spare.

Walsall also did their hopes some good with a first win in two months against fastfading Knowle & Dorridge. After Elliot Wilson and Dave Follett had both rediscovered better form to take four wickets apiece in dismissing K&D for 207, captain Chris Boroughs hit an unbeaten 83 to seal victory with just ten balls to spare.

The dogfight at Dog Kennel Lane went the way of Moseley, who had much the better of a winning draw with Halesowen. The hosts were saved from defeat only by last pair Nadeem Sajjid and Luke Willetts having to survive the final three balls.

Moseley opener Ian Stokes batted through for another century in his side's 249 for four to set an imposing target. And a Halesowen side minus injured skipper Richard Cox never got close, Nick Chase taking four of their wickets.

K&D's third consecutive defeat finally removed them from title contention, while Kenilworth Wardens missed the chance to get involved.

Victory at home to West Bromwich Dartmouth could have got them into the shakeup too. But they were batted out of it by a second-wicket century stand between Moeen Ali (89) and Navdeep Poonia (70) as Dartmouth totalled 222.

Riaz Sheikh hit an unbeaten 44 and took four for 74 in Old Hill's five-wickets win at Coventry, but it was beaten National Knockout finalists Barnt Green's spectacular failure that sent most eyebrows raising.

After the way their fortunes nosedived last summer to hand the title to Wellington, there is a growing fear that history may about to repeat.