An immense effort against league leaders Haughton Green saw a Salford side, devastated by injuries and absences, fall short by 33 runs on Sunday at St Pauls.
Salford won the toss and elected to field on a drying pitch and this looked to be a great call when Daniel Paul, showing superb control from the River end, picked up two quick wickets in successive maiden overs to leave Haughton Green at 7-2.
The visitors rallied with a third wicket stand of 34 before Jonny Wineberg (2-13) and Paul Heaps (2-32) worked their way through the middle order.
Some big hitting took the Haughton Green score beyond 100 before Paul, returning from the Pavilion end, took their penultimate wicket. Paul has been outstanding all season and his 3-14 again showed what a key asset he is to the Salford attack.
With Haughton Green pressing for runs on the last wicket, a superb return throw from the mid-wicket boundary by Elliot Koffman, and good hands from wicket keeper Shimon Harris, ran out their last man for a total of 113 in just the 23rd over.
In reply, Salford made steady progress and were always ahead of the required run rate of just under 3 an over. A combination of stout defence and strong hitting by both Jonny Wineberg (25) and Jeremy Korn (23) kept the contest interesting.
However, wickets fell steadily and, as the pitch dried and the ball started to lift more, batting became harder. Salford eventually reached 80 all out but not before giving the champions-elect a real scare.
Salford have been one of the best fielding sides in the division all season and are just a batsman or two away from turning several close losses into victories. Anyone wishing to join the side for next season should contact Elliot Koffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.