RISHTON skipper Jonathan Dobson says pro James Franklin has helped his side believe in themselves again.
Last season, the Blackburn Road side struggled and managed just two wins all season to finish bottom of the pile.
But, in their four games so far in the Lancashire League, there has been one win, one draw - and he believes there should have been more, especially with his side's renewed enthusiasm.
"Last season we were just turning up," said the skipper, who will miss the next three weeks with a groin injury. "We have had a good start for us. The pro has been superb - his attitude is good and he has given the players more belief. We believe we can win games."
"Last season in training we just turned up with the bat and ball, now we practise fielding and fitness and it is encouraging. He has got us in the right frame of mind."
However, the captain was furious the way his side collapsed against Todmorden in the league on Saturday. New Zealander Franklin got three wickets and Scott Greaves grabbed four as it looked comfortable when Todmorden were skittled out for 108.
Rishton were 82-3 thanks to Franklin's 22 and Darren Eccles top scoring with 30 but it quickly fell apart and they lost by three runs. "We just threw it away," said Dobson."
On Sunday, it was close against title favourites Nelson - who they face in a rematch in the Worsley Cup first round on Sunday.
Brothers Shaun and Garth Wyse did well, taking 4-65 and 2-18 respectively as Nelson were limited to 152. Franklin celebrated a half century and Richard Rostron was 36 not out but it wasn't enough for Rishton.
"We just let them get 30 too much. They are not unbeatable if you can get Joe (Scuderi) out, then you stand a chance. It was a good catch by the captain to get him out on Sunday!"
Dobson caught last season's paid man at Seedhill, Scuderi, for 33 - he is now an amateur - but it wasn't enough for the win and the skipper knows it will be tricky to get past them and into the cup's second round.
"They will be up there challenging for the title, they are a good side and it will be hard to get to the next round."
"We know we won't win the league but we have shown good progress so far."
Rishton are at Burnley on Saturday.