Accrington returned to winning ways this weekend to extend their lead at the top of the table.
They recorded their 12th win over near neighbours Rishton, claiming victory by 30 runs.
“It’s rightfully treated as a derby game and we were very pleased to have won it,” explained Accy team coach, Ian Wilson.
Sam Excell opened the batting for the home side after Accrington regular Simon Hansen was adjudged to be unfit to play.
Wilson said: “We had to call in Sam from the second XI after Simon Hansen felt he couldn’t play because he’d injured his thumb the day before.”
Excell reached 44 to put the league leaders in good stead before professional Ashar Zaidi and Aijaz Shah added their healthy scores of 33 and 25 to the total.
“Sam Excell had a great day. He made a decent total with the bat and then went out and fielded superbly,” praised Wilson.
Daniel Salpietro, Rishton’s professional player, took 4-50 in the innings, whilst Kelly Mall posted 2-28 in the visitors attempt to restrict the run rate.
Accrington went into the interval with a solid 167 total to defend.
“I felt we bowled and fielded really well, it’s certainly one of our strengths,” remarked Salpietro.
Salpietro later turned his talents to the bat, hitting 63 as Rishton chased down their rivals’ total. Rostron shared the burden of carrying the visitors along, adding 27.
“It’s something that we all consciously know to be a weakness of our game.
“We always feel under pressure batting and it always whittles down to us simply not scoring enough runs,” said Salpietro.
Realistically, the local affair was over when Salpietro was caught on the boundary by Excell after an inviting Jimmy Hayhurst delivery.
“It was a blinding catch!
“The Rishton professional (Salpietro) is a real threat and was playing some very smart shots. It was important to make sure we took his wicket before he really got going.
“Everyone on our side was very happy to see him back in the tent!,” admitted Wilson.
Salpietro appreciated that the fall of his wicket was a major blow to his side’s chances of winning the derby, saying: “I knew that I needed to stick around and try and build up a partnership with one of the lads but we couldn’t manage it.
“The figures don’t lie at the end of the day, it’s not going to be enough to win when only a few batsmen are making it into double figures – especially not against a side like Accrington.
“It was a disappointing day for us to lose to our rivals, especially after the terrific effort
we showed to beat them in the cup.”
Zaidi took an admirable 4-35 and Hayhurst 3-32 as Rishton were bowled out for 137.
Accrington can take great encouragement from a strong team performance – a feature of the side’s play that Wilson feels is at the centre of their early success, saying: “It’s been a fantastic start to the season but we’re not getting carried away.
“For me, the most pleasing thing is to see how the team has come together.
“We have some fantastic individuals, our professional Zaidi showed his talents once again, but the wickets were shared out amongst the bowlers as were the runs by the batsmen.
“It’s these kind of team performances that really epitomise our season.”
Church secured back-to-back wins after clinching victory against fellow mid-table and local rival opponents Enfield on Sunday.
Visitors Enfield were all out for 97 in what proved to be one of the shorter games of the season.
Enfield batsman Tiarnan Hamill tried his best to extend the duration of the opening innings, etching 48 onto the scoreboard.
The normally reliable pairing of Wrigley and professional Brad Moses conceded their wickets uncharacteristically cheaply, scoring just 8 and 10 respectively.
Church bowler Andrew Bentley made light work of the Enfield middle order,and could lay claim to the match ball after an influential 6-47.
Church captain Craig Fergusson was quick to praise the bowler, admitting: “Andrew had a great spell with the ball, but he’s also a good all-rounder – he works very hard in the field.”
Opening batsmen Levi Wotenden and Kasun Bodisha appeared to be in a hurry to finish the game at the earliest opportunity, quickly reaching over a third of Enfield’s total within five overs.
“We felt really confident with how the game was going and it was nice to get off to a quick start – it really took the pressure off,” explained Fergusson.
David Bracewell certainly sparked some life into the visitors’ bowling attack.
Within two overs, he had sent both opening batsmen back to the pavilion whilst, at the same time, gifting a flurry of extras to Church.
Hassan Fazal claimed the other two wickets of the afternoon but was unable to significantly dent the Church attack.
Lloyd and Harvey Aspin added 14 and 11 runs a piece to bring the game within a fingertips reach of the home side.
Sam Holt successfully took his side over the line with a comfortable 13 not out.
The Church skipper was pleased to have secured the points from the derby, regardless of the lethargical manner in which it was won, pointing out: “A win is a win.”