O’Connor and Clarke hoping to build on wins

Ben Heap
Ben Heap
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Victory over league leaders Settle has seen a switch in perspective at Whalley Road.

Read have registered a top four finish in the Ribblesdale Cricket League hierarchy in seven successive seasons but haven’t lifted the championship trophy in 13 years.

But a first league win at the Marshfield Ground in over a decade has led skipper Kyle O’Connor to believe that anything is possible.

That 43-run triumph has impacted significantly with the club’s ambition now turning from Lancashire Cup qualification to challenging for domestic honours.

“It makes us believe that we are good enough to challenge for the league title rather than just aiming to make the top four,” said O’Connor. “We believe that it’s achievable.”

Such inner-strength and certitude couldn’t have arrived at a better time as the defending Twenty20 champions travel to Chatburn Road on Sunday to take on Senior League title-holders Clitheroe.

Paul Gaskell’s side, who are bidding for a third successive title, have lost just four times in 52 league outings.

“It’s a big weekend for us,” he said. “It’s probably too early to say it could ‘make or break’ our season but 20 points would make people realise what our intentions are.

“Clitheroe are the best side in the league. They’ve won it for the last two seasons and they’re unbeaten again this year.

“I think we can beat Clitheroe. We need to perform to the best of our ability and force glitches in their display. We need to remind them what it’s like to lose.”

Before that, however, Read host Oswaldtwistle Immanuel tomorrow.

Meanwhile Padiham have constructed the scaffolding for their campaign after professional Ben Heap’s unbeaten knock of 150 gave the club its first win of the term.

The former Lowerhouse man, who has several Lancashire League winners medals to his name, struck 15 fours and seven sixes on the way to posting over half of Padiham’s 288-4 total in a comprehensive victory over Brooksbottom.

New signing Jordan Baczkiewicz contributed with 32 of the home side’s tally while Brannon Varley added 42.

Varley’s figures of 5-15 from eight overs did the damage in the reply alongside Nathan Whitehead who registered a four-wicket haul.

“It was a superb performance at the weekend,” said captain Callum Clarke. “Ben showed exactly why we signed him. He scored a chanceless, unbeaten 150. It was great to watch and good for the lads to get that first win to get the monkey off their back.”

Ahead of games at home to Ribblesdale Wanderers tomorrow and away at Salesbury on Sunday, Clarke added: “We now look forward to two games at the weekend where wins are possible, though we know they’re both very tough games.

“We will look to build on our first win now by claiming back-to-back victories.”