LOWERHOUSE won one and lost one at the weekend to stay within sight of their second-ever Lancashire League title.
On Saturday they lost to nearest rivals Accrington by 23 runs at Thorneyholme Road, but recovered to beat Ramsbottom at home by three wickets on Sunday to effectively end Rammy’s hopes of a second-successive title.
The West Enders now lead the weay by 27 points with three games to play.
On Sunday, batting first after being inserted by Lowerhouse in a 30-over rain-affected match, Ramsbottom struggled against the superb bowling of Francois Haasbroek, Fergus Bailey and Jon Finch. Ramsbottom have a strong batting line-up, but they were never allowed to score freely against the talented trio, who were admirably supported by a fine fielding display by all the Lowerhouse players.
Finch was the chief wicket taker and finished with 4-35.
Chasing 114 for victory, Lowerhouse lost wickets at regular intervals against left arm seamer Mick Haslam and left arm spin of Jonathan Fielding.
Seven wickets had fallen when Matty Walker joined Paddy Martin at the crease, needing 18 runs for victory, and then eight from the final over to be bowled by Haslam.
Martin struck a four through mid on, and four scrambled singles gave Lowerhouse victory with a ball to spare.
However, the previous day, Accrington managed to claw seven points back from Lowerhouse at the top with a 23-run victory.
A win for the away side looked likely when Accrington were reduced to 44-6, including the wicket of the prolific Accrington professional Ashar Zaidi for only seven runs.
The decision to replace professional Haasbroek at that point seemed strange, and the pressure was slowly released as Graham Lloyd and Matt Wilson took control, adding 85 runs for the seventh wicket.
Accrington were finally bowled out for 155, with Haasbroek taking 7-57 and Bailey 3-38.
The attempts of Accrington to deny Lowerhouse the two bowling points was comical, but not as blatantly unintelligent as the same attempts by the Lowerhouse lower order later in the match.
The reply was always going to be a battle of technique, attrition and concentration against arguably the best seamer in the Lleague in recent times.
David Ormerod bowled unchanged, conceding only two runs per over and taking the key wickets of Finch and Haasbroek.
Chris Bleazard, Paddy Martin, Charlie Cottam and Joe Beneduce gave the travelling Lowerhouse supporters hope, but a combination of good bowling by Ormerod and Zaidi, and some erratic shot selection, cost the batsmen their wickets.
The last pair needed to play out the last few balls to deny Accrington two vital bowling points, but inexplicably a wild swing brought the innings to a close, with Accrington taking the maximum 12 points.
Lowerhouse now face trips to East Lancashire and Todmorden this weekend - before their final game at home to Accrington.