LAST weekend’s incessant downpour may have cost Lowerhouse their cushion at the Lancashire League’s summit but it hasn’t affected the belief within the Liverpool Road ranks.
The inclement weather bizarrely only affected Lowerhouse’s clash at home to Haslingden, where the hosts had set a 177-run total, professional Francois Haasbroek (pictured) falling one run short of an unbeaten half-century. But inside the seventh over of the away side’s innings the heavens opened and the fixture was abandoned. And with Church triumphing against Nelson at Seedhill by 27 runs, it meant the gap at the top was reduced to a solitary point.
“It was disappointing,” said chairman Stan Heaton. “We were confident of defending the score but there’s not much you can do about the weather. It was very peculiar that it affected one small area.
“With it affecting Lowerhouse you’d have expected it to interrupt the likes of Enfield, Accrington, Burnley and Nelson but those areas were dry, and when I returned I could see a big rain cloud over Lowerhouse and Padiham. It was a freaky bit of weather.”
Heaton added: “It meant that Church were able to creep within a point of us, but the bottom line is you’ve got to beat whoever you play. If the situation is still the same on July 1st when we play each other, then we know we’ve got to beat them to remain in top spot. Then if we are victorious we’ll still be in the ascendency.”
As it stands, the West Enders, led by first team coach Paul Stansfield and captained by Charlie Cottam, remain unbeaten for the 2012 season as they bid to defend their title. It now means they’ve only been defeated four times in 34 league outings.
“We have a lot of belief and that’s what you need,” claimed Heaton. “We are top of the league after winning it last year so we have to have that belief that we can beat anybody. The proof is there; we’ve done it before and we’re doing it again.”
Tomorrow will see Lowerhouse entertain Bacup in the Worsley Cup where a place in the semi-final is at stake. Victory or a postponement, with more rain forecast this weekend, would see the West Enders concede their spot in the LCB Knockout Cup as June 24th, the Worsley Cup semi-final date, is also when Lowerhouse were scheduled to play Bootle. And with there being no fixed date for the county competition, it means Lowerhouse would simply miss out, a conclusion Heaton would be willing to accept.
“The Worsley Cup is a very important competition but we’re up against another poor weather forecast,” Heaton said. “We want to push on and do well in the competition but as it is we’re in the lap of the Gods. “We’re debating with the league on whether to risk starting the match knowing it’s going to rain or whether to re-schedule for Worsley Cup semi-final weekend. But they are taking a very sensible stance on it. “But if we win or if it’s rained off then we can’t play against Bootle in the LCB Cup. That’s the date we are scheduled to play them but I’d be happy to concede a place in that competition to advance to a semi-final.”
And on Sunday the league leaders travel to Centre Vale to take on Lowerhouse. The pair will be hoping for better conditions this time around after they were recently forced in to a bowl out in the Twenty20 competition, which ‘House won 4-2.
“Todmorden have lost games and all the other sides around them are losing games. We are yet to do that so the longer we can maintain that record the better off we’ll be. They are a determined and aggressive side who show a tremendous willingness. They’ve got a great attitude and they’ll be in our faces wanting to knock us off our perch.”
Meanwhile, Burnley will be looking to rectify their eight-wicket mauling against Enfield at Dill Hill Lane last weekend when they host East Lancashire at Turf Moor on Sunday.
Steve Brunt’s side were undone by South African professional Werner Coetsee’s five-wicket haul while Ryan Brereton added a further three wickets to limit Burnley to 112. Nasser Hussain (44 not out) then did the damage in the reply.
But first Burnley face a tough Twenty20 test against Group C leaders Todmorden. Burnley sit third with a victory over rivals Lowerhouse and a loss in the mini-derby at the hands of Nelson to date. However, victory tonight at Centre Vale would see them move level on points at the top.
In the Ribblesdale Cricket League, Read skipper Kyle O’Connor has demanded that his side show some character in a bid to resurrect their fading form.
The Whalley Road outfit somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a strange encounter against Settle at the Marshfield Ground.
A three-pronged bowling attack of Jon Harvey, Elliot Lowes and Warren Eastham extinguished the home side for 68 but in the reverse, with Read 55-6, they inexplicably capitulated and were condemned to a five run loss.
“I was at a wedding but from what I heard we just threw it away,” said O’Connor.
“It was ours to take but we didn’t apply ourselves properly.
“I’ve never known a capitulation like it. Some things are going to have to change.
“Everyone is expecting somebody else to do the work so they need to step up to the mark now and prove that they are worthy of a place in the side.
“There may be a bit of complacency creeping in.”
O’Connor added: “It was a chance to pull some ground back on Barnoldswick but luckily we didn’t lose any ground.
“We got five points but we’d have much preferred 10.
“As long as we can stay within reach of the pack then we’ll be alright.
“It only takes a couple of games to get back in to the mix.
“We have slipped away but hopefully somebody can do us a favour by beating Barnoldswick.”
A 22-point gulf has now opened between Read and the table toppers but they’ll be looking to reduce the deficit when they host Salesbury tomorrow.
But the latest defeat has acted as a major wake-up call.
“We would expect to beat Salesbury but the weekend was a wake-up call,” declared O’Connor.
“They are a team trying to make their mark on the league and they’ll scrap until the end.
“They’ve got a very good pro (Susantha Pradeep) but we’ve got to look at ourselves and it’s up to us to show that we are worthy of winning games.
“I just want us to show some grit and determination to win a game rather than relying on others, like Mohammed Jamal and our pro (Jordan Clark) to do all the hard work.”
Elsewhere, John Bushell’s Padiham travel to Settle tonight in the Twenty20 competition before stepping up their bid for fourth spot when they travel to New Lane to go head-to-head with Oswaldtwistle Immanuel in the league.