Graham Lloyd admitted the wait was tense – but in the end he congratulated champions Lowerhouse and promised Accrington would be back next season.
Accrington overcame Burnley at around 6pm on Sunday and a win for them – and a Lowerhouse defeat against Ramsbottom – on the final day of the season would have sent the title to Thorneyholme Road for the first time since 2009.
Lloyd’s side sealed the win and had done all they could, but then they had an hour to wait while Lowerhouse played on, with news coming through of wickets dropping and overs running down at Liverpool Road.
But, after the Accrington players had remained glued to their phones, in the end defending champions Lowerhouse scraped over the line to clinch a Worsley Cup and League double.
And while Accrington captain Lloyd admitted there was some regret, he was also proud of his Thorneyholme Road battlers who took the title to the wire and finished runners-up for the
second year running.
“It was certainly tense,” said the former Lancashire batsman.
“Pressure played a part and it’s about how you handle the pressure. It could have gone either way but Lowerhouse coped with it and are worthy champions.
They are the team to beat next season, but we will be making sure we will be difficult to beat next season too.
“I have to congratulate Lowerhouse, they have been outstanding but I am proud of this Accrington team. We have had another brilliant season and we have finished strongly and taken it to the final day, which is a great achievement.
“Obviously we are all a little flat but we will be back next season and we will have our pro, Ashar Zaidi, with us as he has re-signed and so there is a lot to look forward to.
“We have taken 48 points – the maximum – out of the last four games and the table doesn’t lie, the best team finishes top and that’s the way it is.”
Accrington last lost on July 29 and, at that time, they were well off the title pace but gradually they emerged as the main threat to Lowerhouse as Enfield, Church and Todmorden slipped away.
Going into the final weekend of the season, 10 points separated table-topping Lowerhouse from second-placed Accrington, but by Saturday night it was eight points after Accrington comprehensively beat Rishton by nine wickets to take 12 points while Lowerhouse could only pick up 10 against Nelson.
Pro Ashar Zaidi took 5-25 and Jimmy Hayhurst 5-31 with Rishton’s Scott Greaves top scoring with 31 as the Blackburn Road side made just 71. Zaidi’s 36 then helped them set up the grande finale.
And so entering the final day, the trophy couldn’t be taken to one ground by the league committee with any certainty.
Accrington did all they could against Burnley, although they did make hard work of it at times as Burnley were dismissed for 103, Zaidi taking 6-35.
Lloyd’s side wobbled a bit as they went for the target but Zaidi’s 57 – with seven fours and three sixes – and then a four from Graeme Sneddon saw them over the line with three wickets to spare.
Then came the nail-biting wait, the pacing up and down and the downing of a few beers as the news from Lowerhouse made its way round Thorneyholme Road.
With eight wickets down and the overs going down, there was an element that it might be Accrington’s day – but then there was a collective groan as Lowerhouse had done it.
Still, there was little to be unhappy about at Thorneyholme Road after an enjoyable, if rain-affected, campaign.