Macclesfield made the long journey to Oxton to face a side who had won their last four games.
A confident Macc team hoped that a win could potentially take them out of the relegation zone for the first time in 16 weeks.
Electing to bowl first, Macc made a promising start with the impressive Chris Moores picking up the wicket of Hughes for just four.
But Hughes’ opening partner Martyn Evans counter-attacked and shifted the pressure firmly onto the Macclesfield bowlers with an array of boundaries.
Despite riding his luck at times, he scored at an impressive rate and began to build meaningful partnerships with his team-mates.
When he fell to former skipper Barney Cutbill for 83, his captain Simon Stokes took responsibility for guiding Oxton to a sizeable total with a well-compiled 64.
With Oxton well placed to post a score in excess of 250, the ever-reliable Cutbill came to the fore, ripping through the hosts’ middle and late order.
Oxton’s last five wickets fell for just 20 runs, Cutbill contributing an invaluable six wickets, and with support provided by Rob Porter, Ian Tait and Chris Moores, Macclesfield went to the break hopeful of chasing Oxton’s 233.
Macclesfield’s reply started poorly with both openers falling for ducks in the face of tight bowling from Oxton’s openers.
Attempting to rebuild the innings, Khalid Sawas and Nick Ross began watchfully before growing in confidence and playing some attractive strokes.
However, as both men moved into the 20s and Macc’s reply looked to be on track, both fell in quick succession to fantastic seam bowling. When the big wicket of Porter fell soon after to a well-disguised slower ball, Macc were reeling on 53-5 and were really up against it.
Even if Oxton’s total seemed out of reach at this point, getting closer to it would lead to picking up more vital points, meaning that Macc had to fight for every run.
Eighteen-year-old Jamie Winrow batted with confidence against a strong attack and top scored for the away side with a classy 35, a sign of much more to come from him. Contributions down the order from wicketkeeper James Cross, Moores, Cutbill and number 11 Tait led Macc to 170 all out.
Despite the loss, Macc closed the gap to safety and now have two must-win games ahead of them in order to secure Premier Division cricket at Victoria Road next year.
Next week’s game is at home to Alderley Edge and supporters are welcome.
Staying up would be a great achievement considering the position the club found itself in at the halfway point and would provide a satisfactory end to an interesting season.