Lowerhouse all rounder Matt Walker became the first player in five years to do the Lancashire League mini double of 500 runs and 50 wickets as the out-going champions took the battle for the runners-up spot to the final day.
The Liverpool Road amateur top scored with 57, including eight fours and a six from 76 balls, in the West Enders’ total of 196 to help secure a 26 run win over East Lancs at the Neville Gee (Recruitment) Ground.
Victories for Ramsbottom and Enfield ensured there’s three clubs vying for second spot ahead of the final outing of the campaign on Sunday.
Ramsbottom, who hold a five point advantage over their rivals, host Nelson on Sunday, Enfield entertain Rishton while ‘House travel to the Worswick Memorial Ground to tackle Rawtenstall.
Before Walker added 51 for the fourth wicket with sub professional Ben Heap (36) on his return, Jonny Whitehead made 24, Bradley Wright added 13 while Joe Halstead was dismissed without registering.
Chris Bleazard and Joe Martin fired respective knocks of 17 and 14 at the tail end before East Lancs professional culminated the innings with figures of 6-44 to reach the half-century mark for the season.
But it was Walker’s day and the 22-year-old amateur took 5-47 in the reply to limit the visitors to a tally of 170.
At 95-7, with Minhaj Bhada hitting 29 and Mark Lomas contributing 26, the game seemed done and dusted.
However, a late resurgence saw David Turner add 55 runs to the proceedings from 35 balls to alter the complexion slightly.
But he went unaided as Lowerhouse claimed maximum points and Walker earned his milestone.
“Matt is a keen and committed cricketer who works extremely hard,” said club chairman Stan Heaton.
“He absolutely deserves everything that comes his way. He’s an excellent amateur cricketer.
“Obviously this makes him attractive to other clubs who are looking for professionals.
“It’s happened to us recently and Matt was also one of the individuals to be approached.
“He’s more than capable of taking on that responsibility because he’s got the right temperament.
“We would never want to lose him because he’s young and has so much potential but we would never stand in his way. This lad can really play cricket.”
Walker became the first amateur player to achieve the milestone since 2010 where Haslingden’s Steve Dearden (609 runs, 75 wickets), Lowerhouse’s Jon Finch (590 runs, 63 wickets) and Enfield’s Liam Jackson (540 runs, 57 wickets) were all successful in landing the haul.