But while a 39-run verdict over previous pacesetters Denton West was eventually comfortable it produced what had seemed an unlikely twitchy finish at sunbathed Crimble.
Heywood rattled up a daunting 251-4 on the back of another big opening partnership of 157 between James Kettleborough, 117, and Bobby Cross, who contributed 79.
And when West, who went into the game with a two-point advantage at the summit, lost wickets regularly and limped to 149-9 the contest looked done and dusted. But nobody told Liam Kilburn that!
The No 8 batsman smashed three mighty sixes from a wicket situated virtually in the middle of the square. And then as Heywood spread the field sensing the chance of a catch he toned down his raw aggression with controlled hitting to take his side – with help from Max Cole – past the 200 mark.
There was a sense of the jitters amongst the previously contented Heywood supporters, and optimism amongst the visiting fans, at 212-9 with still 39 balls left for the visitors to pull off an implausible comeback.
It needed a touch of inspiration from one of the Heywood players and up stepped Cross.
Cole, growing in confidence, connected firmly from a Simon Dawson delivery in the direction of Cross at wide mid-on for what looked a certain single, only for the Heywood player to swoop on the ball then underarm it from an acute angle.
And the relief from the packed Pavilion and Patio – West supporters excepted – was palpable as the stumps were broken and five points were clinched along with the top-of-the-table spot.
That was cruel on Kilburn who finished unbeaten on 73 made from just 41 balls.
Earlier, West may have rued their decision to ask the home side to bat after winning the toss, then seeing Kettleborough and Cross turn in another master class.
The duo, who put together 201 at Flowery Field a fortnight earlier, were perhaps even more impressive this time with Kettleborough surviving the minor scare of a possible catch at cover with the total 42 in an otherwise virtually flawless display.
The only surprise was when Cross eventually perished to a full toss from Aaquil Uppal, lofting a catch to long-on where visiting professional Semila Seyibokwe took an excellent low catch.
Kettleborough, however, carried on relentlessly towards an imposing century featuring shots all around the ground and energetic running between the wickets.
Mikey Witts went quickly, but professional Faisal Iqbal provided good support in a third-wicket stand of 74 until Kettleborough was caught off a skier trying to up the ante even further.
Iqbal ended unbeaten on 36 and, despite Andy Dawson falling to the last ball of the innings, a total of 251-4 from 50 overs looked a daunting propostion for West.
So it proved with only Hamish Dunlop (17), Seyibokwe (38) and Uppal (15) threatening to make a fist of it, as Dawson and Cav Hilton claimed a couple of wickets apiece and Kettleborough completed a memorable day with four wickets in the middle and late order to leave West with a seemingly hopeless task.
That was until Kilburn produced his fireworks.
Now Heywood have another big home game at the weekend when they hope to keep their winning sequence intact against joint second-placed Oldham area team Moorside. Heywood are on 43 points; Moorside and West are on 40; Glossop come next on 39; and Flowery Field have 38.
J Kettleborough c Cole b Dunlop 111
R Cross c Seyibokwe b Uppal 79
M Witts b Uppal 5
F Iqbal not out 36
A Dawson b Dunlop 8
Total (for 4 wkts, 50 overs) 251
Fall of wickets: 157-1, 165-2, 239-3, 251-4
Bowling: S Seyibokwe 9-0-42-0, H Dunlop 8-1-38-2, B Lowndes 7-0-32-0, A Uppal 12-1-66-2, J Williams 14-0-66-0
H Dunlop c Iqbal b Asildada 17
A O’Brien c Hunt b S Dawson 0
S Seyibokwe c Cross b Hilton 38
A Uppal c Kettleborough b S Dawson 15
J Barnett c A Dawson b Kettleborough 11
J Williams c S Dawson b Kettleborough 10
G Hill c Hunt c Hilton 6
L Kilburn not out 73
B Lowndes c and b Kettleborough 2
H Welsby c Hunt b Kettleborough 0
M Cole run out 16
Total (43.3 overs) 212
Fall of wickets: 2-1, 44-2, 72-3, 89-4, 92-5, 100-6, 120-7, 137-8, 149-9, 212-10
Bowling: S Dawson 13.3-1-45-2, S Asildada 9-0-34-1, C Hilton 6-0-33-2, J Kettleborough 10-2-46-4, F Iqbal 3-0-23-0, A Dawson 2-0-27-0
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