Lowerhouse extend lead at the top!

Jonathan Finch bowling for Lowerhouse

Jonathan Finch bowling for Lowerhouse

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Lowerhouse recorded their 15th win from 18 matches on Saturday, defeating Haslingden by five wickets to increase their lead to 15 points at the top of the Lancashire League.

Second placed Todmorden were beaten by Accrington.

Another Ramsbottom defeat - at the hands of improving Burnley - suggests that it is now a three-horse race of Accrington, Todmorden and Lowerhouse for the title.

Lowerhouse have to play Accrington twice and Todmorden in the run in.

Batting first in a rain-reduced 44 over match, Haslingden lost the early wicket of captain Graham Knowles to a good delivery from Matty Walker, who should have had professional Phil Hayes to the first ball that he received.

Trying to hook, he top edged to Paddy Martin at first slip, who inexplicably, for a player with a terrific pair of hands, spilled the chance.

Hayes made the home side pay as he celebrated with several drives to the off-side boundary, particularly from the off-colour professional Francois Haasbroek.

The introduction of Jonathan Finch (pictured) changed the course of the match, taking 6-24 in 9 overs to reduce Haslingden from 74-2 to 142-9 from the allotted overs.

Openers Ben Heap and Joe Martin looked in little difficulty against the Haslingden attack, especially Martin who played several quality shots square of the wicket and two handsome straight drives.

The pair added 56 for the first wicket.

Haasbroek continued the Lowerhouse domination before Fergus Bailey and Charlie Cottam saw the home side home with four overs to spare.

On Sunday Lowerhouse are at Rishton.

Burnley, meanwhile, travelled to Ramsbottom in their best form of the season and came away with a well-deserved victory by three wickets.

The home side won the toss and elected to bat on a good wicket, and surprisingly had the full 50 over allocation after leaving Burnley with thunder, lightning and hailstorms!

Burnley took the initiative and had the hosts 1-2 with young quickie Cole Hayman getting a wicket after a sharp slip catch by skipper Steve Brunt, as well as the returning Graham Lalor, who bowled an 18-over spell for only 39 runs.

Ramsbottom then had a stand of 159 between their professional Shanon Stewart (93) and David Bell, although the visitors were convinced they had Stewart out lbw early in the innings.

Even with this stand, the home side never managed to break the hold that the bowlers had over the reigning champions, with Imad Wasim (3-70) and the ever-reliable James Capstick keeping the total to 193, combined with some excellent fielding, including a wonderful running catch by Aidan Tate to dismiss Stewart.

In reply Qasim Ali and Josh Whitehead responded with a very composed 101 opening stand which set the platform for victory.

Whitehead, who was promoted from the second team after a series of big scores, scored a fluent 33 to complement the attacking Ali, who scored a good 84 and dominated the Burnley batting.

Then the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals, with only professional Wasim (17) and Chris Burton (19) getting starts.

This led to 14 needed with three wickets left, and Hayman and skipper Brunt (11 not out) saw the visitors home with three overs left.

Burnley entertain East Lancs on Sunday at Turf Moor.