CHAMPIONS Lowerhouse saw their Fosters Lancashire League title hopes tsuffer a setback over the weekend as they lost both their games.
And the West Enders have now lost three of their last four games, and three on the spin at their Liverpool Road fortress.
On Sunday against title rivals Enfield, Lowerhouse staged a magnificent fight back to take the match to the final over, but couldn’t quite get over the line, losing by two runs.
Rain delayed the start and a 24 overs per side game commenced at 4 p.m., with Lowerhouse winning the toss and deciding to bowl.
After a slow start, Enfield began to find their range with an array of shots not always from the MCC Manual, but they were effective as professional Francois Haasbroek conceded 48 from his initial six-over spell and Jonathan Finch conceding 54 from six overs.
Joe Hawke was again the pick of the bowlers but none were able to stem the tidal wave of runs as Nasser Hussain hit 80 from 76 balls and Adam Bracewell 47 from 24 balls.
Lowerhouse could have been demoralised at the interval but Heap, Whitehead and Chris Bleazard fought back and had reached 103-2 from 10 overs with some exquisite strokes, becoming the favourites.
Professional Werner Coetsee, who had been the match winner a week ago in the reverse fixture, was removed from the attack having conceded 45 runs from four overs.
The introduction of Adam and David Bracewell to bowl in tandem began to reclaim the initiative and the removal of Bleazard was arguably the turning pointing of the nail-biting game.
Heap continued but was running out of partners at regular intervals.
Matty Walker and Joe Martin showed great character and skill to bring Lowerhouse to the brink of victory.
The desperate dive to complete a third run was thwarted by the upraised finger of the square leg umpire with Lowerhouse three runs short of victory with two balls to spare.
A tremendous game saw 364 runs scored in 48 overs.
Regular matches like this one would surely negate the need for wholesale and radical changes to be made to the league structure.
The previous day, Lowerhouse slumped to a third consecutive home defeat by losing by six wickets to Rishton.
It is an amazing turnaround from the start of the season when Lowerhouse were despatching sides of the calibre of Rishton and better with consummate ease.
It demonstrates what a huge part confidence plays in sport as several players including Haasbroek are now performing at a much reduced level.
Opposition teams are not now being put under pressure with either bat or ball with Lowerhouse underperforming by 30 to 40 runs when batting losing intensity at the wicket and additionally not creating pressure with the ball when defending totals or restricting the opposition batting first.
Despite decent batting performances from Joe Martin, Jonathan Finch and Haasbroek, a score of over 200 would have been par against the Rishton attack in reasonable batting conditions.
Left arm spinner Sartaj was again the pick of the bowling as he had been in the away fixture taking 5-50.
Jimmy Bibby and Rishton professional Salpietro provided Rishton with an impressive platform in their run chase helped a little by some ill disciplined bowling by the home attack.
Finch and Joe Hawke rallied Lowerhouse to reduce the opposition to 119-3 but the key wicket of Salpietro came too late to allow the Lowerhouse bowlers to have an impact on the Rishton lower order.
Lowerhouse host Church on Saturday.