RISHTON kept themselves firmly in the chasing pack in a congested Lancashire League title race thanks to the cool head of veteran skipper Peter Sleep.
Sleep led Rishton over the finishing line in a tense low-scoring encounter against Nelson to earn his side their sixth win of the summer.
Only Enfield can match that figure and with Rishton also collecting maximum points for the first time from a four-wicket success they moved to within seven points of new leaders Ramsbottom.
Having bowled out Nelson for just 118 victory should have been a formality. But on a difficult batting pitch at Blackburn Road, Rishton made hard work of reaching their target and at 85-6 were in danger of throwing away their earlier good work.
Thankfully for the home side Sleep proved an immovable object as he ground his way to a decisive 48 not out to secure victory in company with Sam Hacking, who eased the nerves with a whirlwind 20 to lift some of the weight of his captain's shoulders.
Sleep earlier put Nelson in to bat and his bowlers vindicated the decision by putting Nelson the back foot from the off. Richard Rostron continued his rich vein of form with another four-wicket haul, while Garth Wyse claimed the scalp of professional Robin Peterson as Nelson were reduced to 27-4.
Rishton were again reliant on a substitute professional and slow left-armer Adnan Malik played his part by picking up three wickets, including top-scorer Khurram Nazir for 26.
At 81-9 Nelson were struggling to reach three figures until Danny Kegg and Martin Heap added 29 for the last wicket.
All but one of those were contributed by Heap, who blasted 28 off 31 balls with two sixes and two fours until Sleep brought himself on and four balls later had Heap caught on the boundary by Rostron.
John Cordingley and Shaun Wyse then suffered few early alarms as they set off in pursuit of their victory target but after taking the score to 18, Cordingley edged Heap to Nazir at slip.
An unhappy Malik departed, very slowly, after being given out leg before next ball and when Andy Bartley reacted in similar disbelief to a decision in Peterson's favour following the downfall of Wyse, Rishton were wobbling at 60-4.
John Seedle offered brief resistance but after hitting Peterson for six the bowler gained his revenge next ball and when the South African induced a top-edge from Rostron the hosts were still 34 short of victory with just four wickets left. However, as long as Sleep remained in the middle Rishton were still favourites and despite two frenzied appeals from the Nelson close fielders the Australian refused to crack.
Playing only when necessary, Sleep went 25 balls without scoring at one stage but never missed the opportunity to punish the bad ball as he picked off eight boundaries, the pick of which was an early on-drive off Heap.
Rishton still needed some impetus at the other end, though, and it finally came in the shape of Hacking, whose hit-and-miss policy paid off whenever Peterson gave the ball some air.
Twice Hacking lifted him out of the ground, leaving Sleep to hit the winning runs with a pulled four through mid-wicket from the 101st-delivery of another match-winning effort.
Accrington remain one place above Rishton after moving up to fourth on the back of another century from professional Nishit Shetty.
The league's leading run-scorer hit his third ton of the season as Accrington beat defending champions Lowerhouse by 46 runs at Liverpool Road.
Shetty blasted five sixes and 11 fours in his 110 as Accrington reached 211-7. Mick Horsfield finished unbeaten on 30 after earlier contributing seven to a fifth-wicket stand of 111.
At 64-1, Lowerhouse were well placed to a mount a threatening a run-chase but acting skipper David Ormerod triggered a collapse when he removed opener Jonathan Finch.
Substitute professional Vinit Indulkar went on to make 61 with four fours and a six but with Ormerord going on to take another five-wicket haul and Shetty taking four wickets he was never given the support needed to threaten another impressive Accrington win.