LOWERHOUSE first team coach Paul Stansfield believes a cocktail of factors has contributed to the club’s recent success.
The West Enders go in to tomorrow’s clash with Todmorden at Liverpool Road unbeaten since the start of the season, 11 points clear of closest rivals Church.
Apart from the abandoned Lancashire League fixture versus Haslingden, the only clash to fall victim to inclement weather that specific weekend, Lowerhouse’s defence of their championship crown couldn’t have started any better.
“I’m not surprised at our start, that’s the wrong word to use,” declared Stansfield.
“But every team in the league has three or four great players plus a professional so you can lose to anybody. We are really pleased with the start and to win all eight games that we’ve completed is brilliant.
“We can bat all the way down to number 11 so we’ve got that strength in depth. The spirit is excellent, we’ve got that togetherness and the lads enjoy each other’s company. They’ve got a great mentality as well so it’s hard to pinpoint one thing.”
The league leaders, fresh from a five-wicket triumph at Centre Vale, will be hoping for a repeat performance when play commences at 1 p.m. tomorrow. And Stansfield is confident of a quick double over Todmorden.
“We believe we can beat anyone,” he said. “They are a good side so we will have to be at our best. We know who we are playing, outlined their strengths and weaknesses, and changed our side accordingly.
“Their pro (Qaiser Abbas) is an exceptional bowler and depending on the conditions we’ll have to adapt to him. He is capable of winning a game on his own. Simon Newbitt who opens their batting scores 700 runs a year and he’s one of the best amateur batsmen in the league. He’s always a good wicket to get.”
And to round the weekend off, the ‘House entertain Bacup in the Worsley Cup on Sunday, with a semi-final place at stake. Stansfield said: “We’ve beaten them once already this season but they were one of the four that beat us last year.
“We certainly won’t under-estimate them. It’s a difficult game to plan for because we don’t know who their pro is. Udara Peiris went home with a shoulder injury and they’ve been playing with sub-professionals ever since.”
Meanwhile, Steve Brunt’s Burnley will be looking for their first back-to-back victories of the campaign.
Burnley beat East Lancs by five-wickets at Turf Moor at the weekend, a performance which the skipper claimed was the most complete of the season.
Brunt said: “We played very well, probably the best we’ve performed all season. Everything - the bowling, batting and fielding - came together. But we need to be consistent and repeat that display against the same opposition. Our inconsistency has always been something that’s let us down unfortunately. With the bad weather we’ve not really been able to pick up any rhythm. We want to put a run together now and climb the table. But it’s a very competitive league where teams can beat each other from top to bottom. It’s a very interesting league.”
That inconsistency has proven a hindrance for Burnley’s progression, a reason why they’ve only recorded three wins so far. But Brunt believes his side can pick up maximum points at Alexandra Meadows tomorrow.
“We need to do as we did before,” he said. “We know it won’t be easy but we’re capable of picking up another 12 points. Our bowlers got us off to a good start with our pro (Adnan Rasool) claiming six wickets and we didn’t give any runs away. Our first part of the game set us up for victory but we batted well when chasing 122.
“It’s hard to pick an individual out for East Lancs because they’re a good side. They are a team that’s stronger in bat than with the ball and they had embarked on a five-match winning streak before the weekend. We just need to put them under pressure.”