Rishton captain Jimmy Bibby admits that his team talk against Colne was easy. The Blackburn Road side were bearing down on the unwanted league record of 17 games without a win – 16 is the record held by Accrington – but their first league victory of the season on Saturday over Colne stopped the rot.
"We knew 17 league defeats on the trot would be a new record and we didn’t want that – we lost the last five of last year as well as the first 11 of this year – so the team talk was easy and the pro came good."
The sub pro in this case was Gulam Bodi, who not only took five wickets but also hit a quick-fire 57 to help the captain breathe a sigh of relief as they finally chalked up their first win of the campaign.
Colne were looking good at 81-1 but Bodi got going with Garth Wyse also chipping in with three wickets as they made 143 all out.
Bibby fell without a run but the sub pro made his mark with the bat and was supported by Irfan Muhammed (36) and it was time to celebrate a rare Rishton win, by four wickets.
Church contrived to lose a game they looked to have in the bag for most of the afternoon as Bacup gave Craig Fergusson’s men a wake-up call on the eve of their Worsley Cup semi-final.
It was Bacup stalwart Andrew Spencer who plucked the win from the jaws of defeat as he was thrown the ball in a last desperate change not long after spilling the catch which had swayed this see-saw encounter back in the home side’s favour.
Spencer delivered a double-wicket maiden as Church, with two wickets intact, needed just 10 to win off nine overs.
It was a remarkable climax to a match which the Lanehead outfit, fielding Sri Lankan substitute pro Wesley Fernando, had rarely looked like winning before panic stations struck the Church ranks.
Bacup lost openers Anthony Taylor and Jack McGregor in consecutive overs with only 15 on the board.
Henry Butcher added 45, the biggest stand of the match, in partnership with Fernando as Church’s left-arm spinner pro Saeed Anwar bowled unchanged from one end.
Butcher struck five fours in his 29 before falling to Anwar. Fernando patiently added another 36 with Matt Thompson but, just when the hired hand looked set to up his tempo with 17 overs left, he was bowled by Philip Gilrane for 28 and, with Adam Highley trapped by Anwar soon after, Bacup were soon in big trouble.
From 98-4 they lost four more wickets moving the score to 112, Thompson eventually seventh out for 25, offering Gilrane a return catch.
Joe McCluskie helped bolster the total to 133 with an unbeaten 13 but it looked far from enough as Anwar cleaned up the tail and ended with 7-37.
McCluskie ripped out Church captain Fergusson for just nine but Levi Wolfenden and Anwar took the score to 60 in 14 overs without any hint of the mayhem that would ensue.
Fernando, a first-class wicket-keeper by trade, then had Wolfenden leg before for a fine 32, the best individual score of the afternoon.
Ben Lord then removed dangerman Anwar and four wickets fell with the score on on 82; Adam Greenwood edged Lord to wicket-keeper McGregor, Nasser Hussain hauled Fernando into Lord’s hands, Phil Howard spooned a catch to the keeper off Fernando and Bentley was given out LBW to the paid man.
An eighth wicket went down at 90 when Philip Gilrane was run out by a direct hit.
With the total on 103 Gilrane’s brother Mark then top-edged Fernando to Spencer but the catch was inexplicably dropped and when Gilrane and Menazar Mehmmod profited from the let-off to add 34, it seemed that Bacup’s grasp on the match had been brief and temporary,
But that was reckoning without Spencer, whose first ball lured Gilrane, on 20, to give a return catch then, with Mehmood stranded on 21 unbeaten at the non-striker’s end, he bowled Sam Tucker to clinch the most remarkable of victories.
Simon Hanson hit a career-best 73 to make sure Accrington are still helping to set the pace at the top of the league with a 91-run win over Burnley.
Hanson hit six boundaries and enjoyed a 164-third wicket stand with pro Ashar Zaidi who finished with 86.
Marley Ali also enjoyed a best with his 30 as Accrington chalked up 283-9.
Zaidi and David Ormerod took three wickets each as Burnley never looked like they would trouble Accrington, who are joint top with Lowerhouse.
Enfield had a disappointing weekend. Last Friday, they missed out on the chance of a Twenty20 final spot after losing to quick-fire champions Ramsbottom
They lost by just 16 runs with Sagawat Hussain top scoring with 47 and Liam Jackson 15. But they couldn’t match the 160-5 set by Ramsbottom with pro Shanan Stewart smashing 67.
Then on Saturday they fell to a eight-wicket loss to pacesetters Lowerhouse. Their 195-7 looked a good score with opener Asif Afzal hitting 52 and Liam Jackson, an unbeaten 44.
But the Dill Hall Lane bowlers took their time in removing Lowerhouse openers Ben Heap (64) and Joe Martin (42) and Enfield slipped to 10th in the table.