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Baxenden are on the hunt for cup success

BAXENDEN haven't won the Ramsbottom Cup since the competition began in 1965 - but they are hoping that this could be their year.

BAXENDEN haven't won the Ramsbottom Cup since the competition began in 1965 - but they are hoping that this could be their year.

Kevin Jelley's men face second-off-bottom Edenfield in the first round tomorrow and, with pro Jon Harvey in fine form, they are aiming for some cup success.

"We are in the so-called easier draw," said the captain. "Great Harwood, Ribblesdale Wanderers and Read have all been drawn in the other group so on paper it looks okay for us."

"If we can beat Edenfield, we face Whalley or Padiham in the second round and then, if we get there, we are in the semi-finals and you never know. But it is easy to say, we have to do it."

Harvey celebrated a half century and a century at the weekend but Baxenden suffered a double blow.

They lost to Ribblesdale Wanderers on Saturday, despite five wickets from Pete Usher and four from Harvey in Wanderers' 172-9. Harvey led the chase but, apart from Jelley (15 not out) in the lower order, the amateurs failed to support their professional and they slipped to a 38-run defeat.

And, despite 101 from Harvey on Sunday, they suffered a defeat against table toppers Read.

Paid man Harvey hit 15 fours in his 143 ball innings and, along with Mark Rishton's 31, they set the pacesetters the target of 197.

However Read are a formidable act and, with professional Danny Law's unbeaten 81 from 78 balls and last season's pro Peter Sleep making 43 not out, they passed the total with eight wickets and five overs to spare.

"Read will walk the title," said Jelley. "They are the superior team in the league. Despite this, it still keeps the league interesting as everyone has to play them and wants the chance to beat them or try and catch them."

And the captain is happy that the league takes a break this weekend for the cup clashes.

"It means we can relax a bit more and it takes a bit of pressure off. We have had four tough games at the start of the season against teams who finished high up last time and we always knew it would be a difficult start."

"But we haven't let ourselves down. Jon is batting well and we have got to make sure that now he has got his form back, we try and bat around him."

And it wasn't a good weekend for title hopefuls Great Harwood.

They had got off to a good start this season as they looked to challenge Read all the way and go one better than the runners-up spot they finished in last season. But, with a double loss and Read remaining unbeaten, it already looks hard.

Harwood slipped to a tight defeat to Earby on Saturday after they set a target of 131.

Top scorer was skipper Russell Whalley with 44 while opener Allan Armer chalked up 30 including two sixes. Andrew Jaggers did the damage with the ball, though, taking 5-48 including the prize wicket of Whalley.

Whalley got his revenge taking four wickets and it looked like they might do it as Earby needed ten off the last over.

But Stephen Hipgrave hit two fours with just one wicket left to help seal the win for his side.

On Sunday, it was disastrous against Blackburn Northern. Harwood were just 73 all out chasing 174-8. But it could have been worse as, at one stage, they were 19-6. Top scorer was Liam Deasey with an unbeaten 23. Pro Gareth Flusk did the damage with 5-22 to secure an easy 74-run win against Harwood..

It means they have to get their act together for the trip to Clitheroe tomorrow in the cup. Harwood reached the final last season and will be looking to win this one.

Meanwhile Oswaldtwistle are pleased to have a bye in the first round of the cup - as it gives them time to get their pro Raja Ali finally over. They have been waiting for the Indian to get a visa - there isn't a problem with him coming to play here it is just he has been the victim of the system in his homeland.

And they need him after they, too, couldn't find a win this weekend.

On Saturday, they lost by 72-runs against Clitheroe. Clitheroe had made 194-6 and the Oswaldtwistle line up could only get to 122.

And they slipped to an eight wicket loss to Barnoldswick on Sunday. Gerard Metcalf hit an unbeaten 54 for Immanuel in their 142-8 but Mick Scothern took 5-39 to make it easier for Barnoldswick. Ian Scothern scored 63 not out in reply.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist