RISHTON'S stand-in captain Peter Sleep admitted it would be a fairytale if he could help his side reach the final of the Worsley Cup.
The Blackburn Road side came through their quarter-final clash with Colne on Saturday and sealed their first semi-final spot since 1987.
Former Australian Test star Sleep stepped into the skipper's shoes as captain Scott Greaves needed the weekend off as his partner gave birth to a baby boy.
Sleep, 48, came back to Rishton for the season to play alongside stepson Richard Rostron before he ends what has been an illustrious cricket career but he is relishing the prospect that his side could end the season with the coveted trophy.
"That would be a fairytale," said Sleep. "We are just one game away from the final. With a little bit of luck, and if the draw is kind to us, then we could get there. I guess most teams would want to avoid Haslingden but if we get them, then we will still fancy our chances on the day.
"We are all quite happy at the moment."
Colne had looked in trouble at 68-4 but Matt Walker's late 31 gave them a lift as they punished the Rishton bowlers. Still Rostron took three wickets while pro Kumar Dharmasena and Shaun Hutchinson got two each to restrict Colne to 199.
Dharmasena then turned on the style after Sleep moved him from opener to third in the line-up. And his second century of the season - with 16 boundaries - was vital in their victory. He was helped by the Kazi brothers with Pervez hitting 26 and Irfan smashing a vital 34 to seal the six wicket win and warm Rishton up on a chilly day.
"We played some brilliant cricket against Colne who were the top side in the league," said Sleep. "We are, though, a reasonable cup side because teams have to use five or six bowlers. We have got at least five bowlers. It is brilliant for the club and it was a great team effort."
And Dharmasena, who is playing club cricket in England for the first time, admitted things have gone well for him so far.
"I have got two centuries and around 320 league runs and 23 league wickets. I want to get 1000 runs and 75 wickets and I think I can do that. "We are all happy at the club after this weekend. It has been good for me as I have been playing international cricket for the last 13 years and haven't played club cricket.
"And it is good to come here and have a person like Peter Sleep at the club who I am learning from all the time. He has been a big help to me."
The draw will be made on Sunday with Todmorden, Haslingden and either Nelson or Ramsbottom in the semi-finals which will be played on July 3.
And, after the Dharmasena show on Saturday, Sleep took over the reins on Sunday as Rishton celebrated a hard fought four wicket win over East Lancs. Sleep made an unbeaten 82 and admitted: "It love beating East Lancs as we don't do it too often!"
Rostron was again in the wickets, taking four this time, with Hutchinson securing three including the prize wicket of pro Loots Bosman (four) as East Lancs made 161. But, with two overs gone, Rishton were 3-3 and struggling with wicketkeeper Matt Egan taking a superb catch to get rid of Dharmasena for a duck - although Egan did later drop Rostron.
But while Sleep was at the crease, Rishton always had a great chance and first he and Andy Bartley took the score along, then Sleep enjoyed a 81-run sixth wicket partnership with step-son Rostron before he finished with Sam Hacking to see Rishton through.
Hacking hit two sixes in his final flurry as both he and Sleep stepped up a gear to see off East Lancs with six wickets and just over five overs to spare.
Meanwhile, Church seem to have refound their form - but it was unfortunate that Accrington were on the wrong side of it as they continued their poor league start to the season with nine league games without a win.
Sri Lankan pro Ruven Peiris hit 81 with 11 fours to take his season's league tally to 565 league runs. And Philip Gilrane scored a career-best 41 to help Church to 178 before they were bowled out thanks to the heroics of the league's amateur leading wicket taker Tariq Hussain who took 8-98 - and now has 28 victims for the season.
Church bowler Nick Westwell, though, then showed his value with the ball as he destroyed Accrington, ending with figures of 7-37. Top scorer for Accrington was paid man Tama Canning with 27 but it was a disappointing batting show from Accrington who prop up the Lancashire League table.
Enfield were unlucky to slip to a 23-run loss at Todmorden in a reduced 44-over match. Todmorden made 182 with Alivro Petersen taking 3-45 to give Enfield a good chance. The South African then did his bit with the bat, making 64 to take his league total to 441 for the season after both openers had gone cheapy, falling to Mo Bux.
Adam Bracewell did score 40 to give Enfield a fighting chance but they fell agonisingly short as tight bowling kept the usually lively Petersen at bay.
It's local derby weekend on Sunday with Church at home to Rishton and Accrington travelling to Enfield in search of that first win.
RISHTON CC will host a Lancashire Under 15 v Lancashire Under 14 clash next Thursday with an 11am start. It is 50 overs with all the usual club facilities open. Admission is free.
ACCRINGTON will travel to Littleborough in the Inter League Challenge Trophy quarter-final. The two sides met last year with the Central Lancs League side the victors. In the rest of the draw, Haslingden entertain Royton, Nelson visit Rochdale and Radcliffe play Heywood. The matches will be played on Saturday 18 June.