Old Hill took full advantage of Barnt Green's inactivity to leapfrog to the top of the Birmingham League in dramatic style.

Freakish weather conditions in North Worcestershire ensured that Barnt Green's was the only one of 12 games in the top two divisions to fall victim to the weather.

Their 'rain-off' against third-placed Knowle and Dorridge left the two titlechasing sides with just five points apiece. And any hopes they had of the day's other top four clash proving a stalemate were ruined when Old Hill claimed top spot with an exhilarating final-ball victory over former leaders West Bromwich Dartmouth.

Old Hill's stand-in wicket keeper Paul Vinas emerged as his side's surprise hero.

Taking his first guard with six still needed for victory off the final over being bowled by Dartmouth skipper Matt Rawnsley, and with just two balls left, the odds were against him.

But Vinas lofted his first ball over mid off for four and then gleefully smacked a full toss through midwicket to complete Old Hill's eighth win of the campaign.

Dartmouth had given themselves a chance by running up a healthy 156 for nine in a game reduced by rain to 31 overs. But Ruwait Khan's 49 set Old Hill on their way, well supported by 33 from pro Riaz Sheikh. And, although wickets tumbled, Vinas kept his head to complete the job.

With K&D holed up in the Barnt Green pavilion, the gap to the chasing pack now looks too big to make up. And, with eight matches left, the title race is between the top four, ensuring new champions.

If it is competitive at the top, it's nothing to the scrap going on down at the bottom, where any one of six sides could still go down.

Halesowen's unexpected revival gathered pace as they recovered from last week's home defeat by Wellington to get a winning draw against mid-table Himley.

This game too was reduced by rain to 31 overs, from which Halesowen made 158 for seven, sparked by Alastair Maiden's 51. But the home side also owed a lot to a stand of 71 in six overs between former skipper Alan Warner, alongside the man who replaced him as captain last month, Richard Cox.

Warner hit five sixes as he belted 45 off just 21 balls, well supported by Cox, who did his bit by getting his runs in singles, to keep his partner on strike.

Himley then never got close in reply, Imran Ali's latest

five-wicket haul leaving the visitors on 78 for eight.

There is one slight cloud on the Halesowen horizon.

After his legendary luck with the toss to help win Halesowen the title three years ago, fortune has deserted Cox when it comes to calling correctly . . . five lost tosses in a row since being restored to the helm have somewhat diminished that proud reputation.

Halesowen are still second from bottom, just six points behind the side nearest to them, fallen champions Wellington.

But, on top of last week's win, Wellington skipper Gavin Byram and star overseas professional Benji Hector again showed the sort of form that ought to keep them clear of trouble come season's end.

Byram took eight for 60 as Wellington held Coventry & North Warwicks to 178 for nine.

Wellington were then on 101 for six, with Hector still there on 56, when the weather intervened.

Earlier, Keith Bell had maintained the form he showed in making such a stunning Minor Counties

debut for Staffordshire.

The Coventry opener batted through for an unbeaten 82 to follow up last weekend's century in each innings for Staffs.

Leamington remain adrift at the foot of the table after they fell well short in a losing draw at Kenilworth Wardens, the team who accompanied them up a year ago.

Adam Smyth's 68 and an unbeaten 40 from Scott Stenning saw the Wardens to 183 for eight in the day's only top flight game unaffected by the rain.

The top flight's leading wicket taker Shitansu Kotak then bagged another four scalps for the Wardens as Leamington limped to 137 for seven.

Walsall could have dragged themselves clear of any danger with victory at home to Moseley. But they remain involved after a five-wicket defeat.

After Michael Bell and Nick Chase had each taken four wickets, overseas professional Pete Magafas found his touch with a 50 to steady the ship after a bad start, well supported by an unbeaten 36 from Wasim Khan.