LOWERHOUSE’S charge at the top of the Lancashire League table may be passing inconspicuously but that suits chairman Stan Heaton down to the ground.
The West Enders have opened a six-point gap over Accrington while a 10-game unbeaten run has seen them develop a 24-point gulf over fourth-place Church.
“There’s nobody making a big deal of it,” said Heaton. “Many people may be waiting for our bubble to burst. It seems to be going unnoticed which doesn’t bother us. We just want to carry on winning.
“We’ve kept the unbeaten run going. We’ve only lost two all season with the last one being away at Rawtenstall. We’ve now gone 10 games unbeaten which is nearly half a season.”
The Liverpool Road outfit have only suffered defeat twice this season and so they go in to Sunday’s clash at home to struggling Rishton in buoyant mood. However, Heaton insists there’s no room for complacency.
“On paper we’d be expected to beat Rishton but cricket matches aren’t played on paper,” Heaton said. “Rishton have won twice so they are capable and nobody expected Colne to beat Haslingden so we’re not taking anything for granted.”
And that philosophy has also been adopted to their title push: “We don’t want to get too carried away because if you look to far ahead you tend to take your eye off the ball. We just need to take things one game at a time, starting with a good performance and maximum points against Rishton.”
Hassan Khan and Jonathan Finch are the notable absentees at weekend, though the first XI are graced with the return of skipper Charlie Cottam and Chris Bleazard. Heaton is aware that one of Lowerhouse’s strengths, aside from talent and desire, has been their strength in depth.
“We’ve had to make a couple of changes in recent weeks but it’s a sign of the relative strength that we have at the club,” said Heaton. “We’re without two players on Sunday but we’ve got two coming in.
“We’ll miss Jonathan Finch because he is probably one of the best all-rounders in the league. We’ve had players coming in and out but having your captain and one of your best run scorers in Chris Bleazard coming in are not bad replacements.”
Heaton added: “Everybody is chipping in. Matt Walker fired a 40 at the weekend which he’s been threatening to do and now he’s showing promise to become a first team all-rounder at the age of 18. It’s not been a case of the pro doing it all. Ben Heap’s scoring a lot of runs as well so we’re not having to rely heavily on a couple of players.”
If statistics and league position are anything to go by then you’d expect Burnley to falter against East Lancs at Alexandra Meadows on Sunday.
Just 10 points separate the two sides though Steve Brunt’s men go in to the fixture high in confidence after positive displays over double-header weekend.
“We played well both games,” Brunt said. “We played a very good all-round game against Colne on Saturday but couldn’t quite get over the line against Rawtenstall on Sunday. We batted consistently and everything else fell in to place.”
Maximum points from the clash would see Burnley climb to 11th in the Lancashire League table, which would give their season of under-achievement a bit more respectability.
“It’s a chance to jump up the table,” said Brunt. “If we carry on like we are then there’s no reason why we can’t pick up maximum points against East Lancs. I thought they would be higher up in the table this year so I’m surprised at where they are.”
David Pearson is the East Lancs dangerman with the bat, firing 540 runs, while John Turner has added 476. Professional Ockert Erasmus has starred with the ball taking 49 wickets which is 25 more than Burnley’s leading wicket-taker James Capstick. Paid man Imad Wasim has top-scored for the Turf Moor club with 456 followed by Qasim Ali with 301. It makes for a tight game, though Brunt wants his side to pull everything together for this clash.
“On paper they have a strong batting line-up but maybe they’ve been struggling with the ball,” he said. “You need to be strong in both departments to compete in this league. You always want to be as high as possible in the league. We’ll focus on our performance first and hopefully the result can come so we can climb.”