Lowerhouse clinch the title – again!

The champions! Lowerhouse celebrate a third Lancashire League title in four seasons at Todmorden on Sunday
The champions! Lowerhouse celebrate a third Lancashire League title in four seasons at Todmorden on Sunday

Lowerhouse had three chances to get the seven points they needed to win the Lancashire League, but won a third title in four seasons at the first attempt in a thriller at Todmorden on Sunday.

The only club in the league not to win any senior silverware up until 2004’s Worsley Cup triumph, the West Enders won the title the following year, ansd have since added a further hat-trick of league wins, another Worsley Cup and last year’s 20/20 success.

It is jus reward for all the hard work put in behind the scenes at Liverpool Road- the “Cinderella” tag has long since been dismissed.

Sunday’s one-wicket triumph at Centre Vale, coming in the last over, was, incredibly, an 18th-successive league win, having made an unusually slow start to the campaign, losing half of their opening six games.

Todmorden won the toss and chose to bat, with substitute professional Christi Viljoen making an instant impact, taking the first two wickets with just 21 on the board, seeing off openers Simon Newbitt (7) and Ben Sutcliffe (3) both lbw.

Todmorden’s sub-pro Kelly Smuts and Kristian Garland shared 52 for the third wicket, before Smuts (34) was caught in the slips by Ben Heap off Paddy Martin.

Garland continued to plunder runs alongside captain Andrew Sutcliffe, as they shared 77 for the fourth wicket, with Sutcliffe caught at mid-off for 17 by Jonny Whitehead off Matt Walker.

Elliott Gilford was run out four runs later for one, and Benjamin Pearson suffered a similar fate a run later, without facing a ball.

Garland finally fell for a 132-ball 73, including eight fours and a six, caught in the slips by Viljoen off Walker at at 161.

Walker claimed his third scalp when he had Paul Senior (1) caught at long on by Jon Finch, and the innings closed on 177-8, with Stuart Priestley unbeaten on 11.

Todmorden scored just 23 runs from the last nine overs, with Walker taking 3-30.

Walker also made a big contribution with the bat, hitting 65 after stepping in with Lowerhouse 65-5.

Smuts took all five of those wickets, clean bowling Finch for 14, before seeing off Heap (24) caught and bowled.

Viljoen was caught behind by Sutcliffe next ball without scoring, before Whitehead (19) was bowled and Paddy Martin trapped in front for a duck.

However, Walker and Joe Hawke showed the side’s character and depth, as they put on 73 for the sixth wicket - Smuts returning to the attack to have Hawke (30) caught in the slips.

Walker passed his half century with a six, before Sutcliffe trapped skipper Charlie Cottam (2) and Chris Bleazard was caught at mid-off by Senior off Smuts to leave Lowerhouse 31 runs short with two wickets remaining.

Walker and Joe Martin added 26, with Walker out at 173, caught trying to hit a six for a superb 65.

Martin and Fergus Bailey completed the job, however, with three balls to spare, Bailey hitting four to clinch the title.

That means the Ron Singleton Trophy - the traditional curtain-raiser for the season in April next year, is a mouth-watering prospect.

Lowerhouse will take on Worsley Cup winners Burnley in a derby clash.

Burnley continued their fine recent form as they cruised to victory past Rishton by nine wickets at Myprotein Turf Moor.

After his first league century last week, professional Chris Holt took 5-24 as the visitors were dismissed for 100.

Rishton paid man Matt Hulett top-scored with 21 in his final match for the club, while Shaun Wyse added 15 and Mo Patel 13.

Burnley knocked off the winning runs in 17 overs as Holt hit 30 not and David Brown an unbeaten 54, including seven fours and two sixes.