Read back on course for seventh successive top four league finish

Read skipper Kyle O’Connor was happy to see everything fall in to place at the perfect time of the season.

After flirting with the top four, the club soared in to LCB Knockout Cup contention after taking maximum points from games against Barnoldswick and Great Harwood.

Read's Rick Sharples in the wickets.

Read's Rick Sharples in the wickets.

The outlook had been looking bleak - with Read facing the prospect of finishing outside the county cup qualification spots for the first time since 2007 - but a couple of wins accompanied by Whalley’s loss to struggling Ribblesdale Wanderers has aided their cause.

“It’s exactly what I’ve been asking of the lads,” O’Connor said. “I wanted them to put everything in so we could climb in to the top four and to be fair they didn’t put a foot wrong at the weekend.

“Our bowling, batting and fielding was brilliant. Everything just came together when we needed it to. It was a massive weekend and important to get 24 points from it is excellent.”

Relegation candidates Barnoldswick were the first to be overawed by Read’s quality. Richard Sharples performed imperiously at Whalley Road with figures of 5-6 as the visitors crashed to 90 all out. O’Connor (33 not out) then combined with Joey Marshall, who hit an unbeaten 44, as they breezed to a 10-wicket win.

And 24 hours later Marshall was at it again as he hammered 90 of Read’s 205-run total in victory over high-flying Great Harwood on home soil. Omar Hussain restricted the away side’s batsmen with three wickets.

“Richard bowled really well on Saturday and Omar did the business on Sunday,” said O’Connor. “Against Great Harwood our pro (Brandon Scullard) was as quick as I’ve seen him all season. I think he enjoys bowling against them.

“Joey Marshall was a man on a mission on Sunday as well. If the ball was pitched up to him he was just smashing it over heads. He’d hit an unbeaten 44 against Barnoldswick as well the day before and I was 38 not out.”

He added: “We were very positive this weekend instead of playing safe. It suited us more because we were playing to our strengths. We like going after the ball if it’s there to be hit. It was an enjoyable weekend.”

Elsewhere, Padiham maintained their impressive end to the season when beating Brinscall by 64 runs at School Lane.

Professional Darryl Losper laid the foundations with a knock of 80 that included 12 boundaries. Philip Metcalfe contributed 28 runs to their total after opening alongside Jimmy Gray (14). Ryan Clegg then hit 23 at the tail end as the visitors climbed to 197.

After rain interrupted play, the hosts were set a revised target of 145 but Losper and Nathan Whitehead did the damage as they took five wickets apiece.