Read skipper O’Connor eyes county cup berth

Read lost to both Clitheroe and Settle
Read lost to both Clitheroe and Settle

The county cup competition isn’t just a luxury for teams in the Ribblesdale Cricket League.

It’s not a hindrance in an already hectic fixture list that stretches from April until September each year. Clitheroe have proved just that.

The league’s champions, who are on course to retain their crown with just four games remaining, have reached the semi-final stages of the LCB Knock Out Cup where they’ll combat Liverpool and District table toppers Ormskirk.

That specific voyage has clearly fed the ambition of Read skipper Kyle O’Connor. Currently sixth in the top tier, the club is pushing for the top four to seal qualification.

After losses to Clitheroe and Settle, which saw the club slip 18 points behind rivals Whalley with a game in hand, O’Connor said: “We are wanting to put it right now. The weekend has made us even more determined to win. The players were disappointed because they know that we are much better than what we’re showing.”

Read now face another vital double-header, taking on Barnoldswick at Whalley Road before hosting Great Harwood in a re-arranged fixture.

“We’ve got Barnoldswick and Great Harwood at the weekend - both at home,” he said. “Barnoldswick are struggling but have everything to play for while Great Harwood are doing really well and going for the title. We’ve got two tough games ahead but they’re both at Read which is obviously beneficial to us.

“We’ve got to be aiming to win both games to keep us in with a shout of getting fourth spot. We can’t hide now. There’s five games left to get ourselves in to the LCB Knockout Cup places so we need to take responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Padiham’s potent finish to the season has left captain Callum Clarke believing that promotion is a realistic goal next term.

Padiham, who broke the 100-point barrier at weekend, take on Brinscall at School Lane in their penultimate outing of the campaign.

Brinscall were hammered by Salesbury recently, with their opponent’s sub pro breaking the league record in hitting 275 of his side’s 438-7 total. Liam Winstanley’s men were then extinguished for a meagre 61.

“We’ve got Brinscall away,” Clarke said. “They suffered a heavy defeat against Salesbury at the weekend, with their opponent’s sub pro breaking the league record, so we’re playing them at a good time. We want to push forward now and make it five wins from six.

“We’re determined to record a strong finish and look to build towards next year. The ambition for next season is definitely promotion. We’ve shown recently that we are capable of doing it.”