Burnley captain Bharat Tripathi doesn’t buy in to the theory that the magnitude of Sunday’s derby will be exacerbated by current standings in the Lancashire League.
For the first time in a perpetuated period the two rivals will go head-to-head as the dominant forces in the division, with a solitary point giving Burnley the advantage at the top.
In the last decade the Turf Moor outfit have won the title once while the West Enders have been crowned champions on four occasions. However, they’ve never met when both have been considered genuine challengers for honours.
“It’s the biggest game of our season so far,” Tripathi said. “It’s massive but the derby always is whether we’re top or at different parts of the table. It’s always a big game and one that we’re looking forward to.
“There’s only a point in it but it’s still early in the season. The league won’t be set in stone by the outcome of this weekend. It will continue to fluctuate.”
Tripathi considers the epic two-day Worsley Cup semi-final in 2013 as the grandest derby in which he’s featured and he accepts that he’ll take a similar outcome in a bid to extend their slender lead.
Having recorded a 43-run victory that day, Tripathi said: “We want to extend that lead at the top though and we’ve got the opportunity to do that against Lowerhouse. We’d like a bit more breathing space and distance between us.
“The Worsley Cup tie a couple of years ago was pretty big. That was the biggest derby game I’ve played in. That one stretched over two weekends. It’s a long season so it’s difficult to gauge just how big this one is yet. The second fixture could prove to be a lot bigger.”
He added: “The ambition is to win as many games as possible and try to pick up some trophies along the way. Our form and confidence suggests it’s a realistic goal to challenge for honours.”
Meanwhile, on the opposite boundary of the town, Liverpool Road chairman Stan Heaton is refusing to play down the significance of Sunday’s meeting on enemy soil.
Having won three of the last four titles, and being unbeaten in six outings so far this term, ‘House have a plethora of records to preserve.
And Heaton doesn’t want to lose his winning streak or his silverware to the club’s neighbours.
“It’s going to be a real ding-dong battle,” he said. “The cup semi-final in 2013 was very significant and meaningful but in terms of the league I’d say this is the biggest derby in a while. When we’ve played in recent years there hasn’t really been much on it. There hasn’t been a game of great significance.
“We’ve not played each other when we’ve both been challenging. This is undoubtedly a very significant game even with it being so early in the season. I’d even go as far as classing it as a 24-pointer.”
He added: “If you beat your closest rivals it’s massive. We’re first and second in the league so I would say it is that big. We want to keep our unbeaten run going as well. We don’t want to lose that to anybody, particularly not Burnley.”