Burnley skipper Bharat Tripathi believes that the Lancashire League will be far more competitive this season.
The defending champions, who swallowed up the entire collection of domestic silverware last term, are one of seven teams to have won two of their three opening fixtures.
And the 26-year-old can envisage the table taking on a similar design as the campaign progresses.
“All the teams that I predict to be up there have been beaten already. Everybody will have to play good cricket for longer periods this season to try and force the advantage because it’s going to be a lot tighter this year.
“Even the teams that finish further down the table will be even more competitive and will have a big say on what happens at the top end.
“It’s fruitless to look at the league table now and start predicting things so early on but my gut feeling suggests it’s going to be an interesting campaign.”
Burnley were beaten by Enfield for the second time in the embryonic stages of the new season but Tripathi feels that the reversal should give his squad the kick that they need going in to a tough weekend.
Burnley travel to Acre Bottom to face Ramsbottom tomorrow before entertaining Colne in the term’s first mini-derby at Turf Moor on Sunday.
“We need to step it up even more now to make up for that loss,” he said. “That’s the test of a good team. What we achieved last year will go down in history but we can only look forward now.
“This is a stronger league than what it was last year and everything is up for grabs.”
Meanwhile, Lowerhouse chairman Stan Heaton has echoed those sentiments.
According to the Liverpool Road stalwart, early indications suggest that a cluster of teams will be pushing for the title.
“It’s going to be a very tight season,” he said, after the West Enders climbed a place in thehierarchy despite losing out to Ramsbottom.
“There will be question marks over whether Ramsbottom can maintain their form, how other sides will respond to defeat and whether Enfield can build that consistency.
“It’s certainly going to be interesting which is good for spectator interest. We’ve had our fair share of success in previous years but it’s been shared about in recent times.”
Lowerhouse host Haslingden tomorrow and travel to Seedhill to tackle mini-derby rivals Nelson on Sunday.
“We don’t take any game lightly,” stressed Heaton. “You only need to look at last season’s form to see how inconsistent our next two opponents have been.
“But that counts for nothing now and we can’t take anything for granted. We’ll have to be on top form in both games to ensure victory.
“We want to right a few wrongs from the previous weekend where we lost to Ramsbottom. Everybody is determined to bounce back.”
Kyle O’Connor was buoyed by the clinical combination of experience and youth as Read opened their campaign with victory over Salesbury.
And now the Whalley Road skipper is praying that the potent concoction will be just as effective in the forthcoming fixtures.
“It was great to get back out on the field and start with a win,” he said. “We showed signs of the performances that we’re capable of producing but there is also room for improvement.
“We managed to battle and secure victory thanks to our older, more experienced players while the youth also displayed some good strengths.”
Paid man Ravi Jangid also impressed on his debut and O’Connor hopes the Indian professional can inspire the squad in the games ahead.
Read host Brinscall tomorrow before entertaining Clitheroe in the Ramsbottom Cup on Sunday.
“Our pro looked quality considering that he’s only just arrived and it was his first time in the UK.
“That was very pleasing and hopefully he can produce some big performances for us in big games.
“Brinscall have shown in the past that they’re always up for a fight and can push any side on their day.
“And we then face the biggest challenge in the cup at the first hurdle. It would be nice to push ourselves in the cup and games against Clitheroe are always like finals. We’ll be hard to beat.”
Meanwhile, new Padiham captain Kurt Robinson is confident his side can challenge for honours this term despite the early set back.
After Padiham were beaten by eight wickets by Oswaldtwistle Immanuel at the Arbories, Callum Clarke’s successor said: “We couldn’t have done much worse to open the season.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge ahead though because I wanted that extra responsibility.
“I want to take ownership and hopefully my own performance is a sign of things to come but as a team there’s definitely room for improvement.”
Padiham welcome Euxton tomorrow in a league encounter and then host Feniscowles in the Ramsbottom Cup on Sunday.
“We want to be challenging this season,” said Robinson. “We want to go up and compete against the best.
“We don’t want to take any backwards steps so this season is about progression. Hopefully we can go one step further this year and gain promotion because that’s where we belong.”