Mixed weekend sees Lowerhouse lose their grip on the Lancashire League trophy

IN FORM: Lowerhouse batsman Jonny Whitehead was among the runs this week as the West Enders tried to claw back Accrington's advantage at the top of the Lancashire League table
IN FORM: Lowerhouse batsman Jonny Whitehead was among the runs this week as the West Enders tried to claw back Accrington's advantage at the top of the Lancashire League table

Lowerhouse maintained their stranglehold on second spot in the Lancashire League after a mixed weekend but may have let the championship trophy slip through their fingers.

The West Enders picked up 17 points over the double-header weekend, but leaders Accrington now boast a 40-point gap at the summit with just nine games remaining.

Rivals Haslingden, now fifth in the hierarchy, won the toss on Saturday and opted to bat first at the Neville Gee Recruitment Ground.

The visitors progressed steadily on a good batting track and eventually posted a very competitive 236 with Paddy Martin and professional Francois Haasbroek each bagging a couple of wickets.

A brilliant 106-run partnership between Ben Heap (47) and Jonny Whitehead (65), at five an over, effectively placed ‘House in the ascendency but a rude awakening was in the offing as 130-1 became 178-7 with Jordan Shannon (5-72) doing most of the damage.

Lowerhouse performed one of their famous rallies and wanted 10 from the last over with two wickets remaining. Unfortunately the hosts came up short as both wickets fell for four runs with two balls to spare leaving Chris Bleazard stranded on 35 at the other end.

However, Paul Stansfield’s side responded well and grabbed a hard-earned maximum at the Worswick Memorial Ground against Rawtenstall 24 hours later.

The visitors batted first and it was clear from the outset that scoring wasn’t going to be easy on a spiteful two-paced wicket.

Whitehead’s patience and endeavour at the middle yielded rich rewards as he made 85 dispatching veteran Keith Roscoe in to the car park along the way.

South African paid man Haasbroek made 29 but no other batsmen reached double figures, leaving ‘House’s total of 145 looking vulnerable.

Rawtenstall started well with an opening stand of 30 but were soon in trouble with the track deceiving them at every turn.

The in-form Paddy Martin (4-18) removed professional Brett Pelser and ended the game as a contest with the home side safely back in the tent for just 83.

Meanwhile, Burnley’s purple patch was brought to an abrupt end against Enfield at Turf Moor.

The hosts lost Chris Burton with just five runs on the board but Qasim Ali (18) and Dan Pickup (26) made the score more respectable. After 12 overs Bharat Tripathi’s men had raced to 74 but at the expense of four wickets.

The skipper himself contributed to the rebuilding process with a knock of 23 alongside the returning David Brown as the pair put together an 80-run partnership. Brown’s innings culminated on 56 from just 46 deliveries before being caught on the boundary by Tiarnan Hamill.

The next ball saw Tripathi run himself out leaving chairman Michael Brown (29) and Aiden Tate (25 not out) to take the score to a competitive 224-8.

Wickets fell regularly and at 125-4 the home side were in command but a partnership of 77 between Moses and wicket keeper Hamill left only six required off the last over. Moses won the game with 89 not out and two balls to go. James Capstick took 2-40 off eight overs and Tripathi 1-52 were the successful bowlers but Burnley only gained a single point.

Burnley travelled to Bacup the following day hoping to get back in contention for a top four finish. Cole Hayman made the breakthrough and added another in claiming 2-41 alongside Lalor (1-21) as the home side were reduced to 40-3. Rasool proved the leading light for the visitors as he claimed 6-89 but Joe McCluskie (52) and professional Aubrey Swanepool (102) formed a partnership of 83 on the way to their side’s competitive 250-run total.

Burton was aggressive in the reply and smashed 54 in an opening stand of 88 with Pickup until he fell LBW to Swanepoel. Ali stepped in and scored 46 but it was Pickup who stole the show with a commanding 82 and anchored the innings to lead the victory charge. It was left to Michael Kelly (37 not out) to put the finishing touches to a seven wicket win.