Read and Padiham both aiming to bounce back

Read will host Clitheroe on Saturday
Read will host Clitheroe on Saturday

Kyle O’Connor has challenged his squad to keep their season alive ahead of a hectic weekend of cricket.

Following defeats to Barnoldswick and Settle - which saw the club drop to fourth in Section A of the league’s revised hierarchy - Read travel to the Arbories to challenge rivals Padiham in the Twenty20 tomorrow night before entertaining unbeaten champions Clitheroe on Saturday.

O’Connor, whose side sits 32 points behind the league leaders having already been dumped out of the Ramsbottom Cup against Barnoldswick by virtue of a bowl out, said: “At this moment in time, going on our current form, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be our year. I don’t think we are strong enough. We’re at home to Clitheroe next and they’re the strongest side in the league by a long way.

“Some players aren’t trying hard enough and they don’t seem bothered. Games are just passing us by. People are expecting things to happen rather than trying to make things happen. If myself and Joe Marshall fail we seem to struggle with the bat at the moment.”

He added: “Clitheroe’s pro (Janaka Guneratne) looks like he can hold a bat and they’ve got plenty of depth but if we stay disciplined we could cause an upset. Three weeks ago I’d have said we were on a par with them, but recent performances haven’t dictated that.”

Meanwhile, Padiham skipper Callum Clarke believes last year’s Twenty20 finalists can enjoy the derby without any added pressure tonight.

Following the 111-run loss to Read on home soil last month, he said: “We’ve got the Twenty20 on Friday. It will be a good game and very competitive but there’s not as much pressure on this one. We got to the final last year so we’d like another good run. We can enjoy this one a little bit more than the league encounter.”

Padiham are second bottom in Section B with 18 points having lost six of their seven league fixtures. And Saturday poses yet another test as they take on a Whalley outfit that could usurp Great Harwood in second spot in the top tier should they win their game in hand.

Clarke’s men lost to Euxton at the weekend having been undone by their pro Preston White, who hit 52 with the bat before taking six wickets, before Stuart Maher did the damage for Great Harwood with figures of 7-17.

“It was disappointing to lose both games,” Clarke said. “Now we need to bounce back against Whalley which won’t be easy. They’ve started really well but we’ve trained hard this week. We need to start valuing our wicket more. Players need to be a bit more selfish with the bat and go for longer periods of time.”