Accrington kept what little pressure they could on leaders Lowerhouse by beating Haslingden but the Burnley outfit have a 27-point lead and Jimmy Hayhurst’s side have only three, possibly four, fixtures remaining.
Accrington will get a game in hand if the weather behaves this weekend but the chances are that even that extra game will not be enough to prevent Lowerhouse gathering the points they require, barring a collapse like the one that afflicted Haslingden’s run-in two years ago.
Those days of topping the table must seem light years away for Graham Knowles’ men.
They put Accrington, with former Colne pace ace Anwar Ali deputising for injured Ashar Zaidi, in at Bent Gate on Sunday as the game got underway late with 32 overs per side.
Opener Simon Hanson was the mainstay of the Accrington innings, carrying his bat for an unbeaten 68 as no-one else could pass 18, which was Matt Wilson’s contribution in a stand of 68 for the seventh wicket.
Lee Ingham bowled unchanged to pick up a splendid 7-77, including Ali for just a single and Graham Lloyd for just 14.
However, a wasteful 25 wides helped the visitors boost their tally to the tune of 35 extras.
The Haslingden reply was largely abject, despite a contribution of 33 from professional Phil Hayes, whose form has been so disappointing this season that the club’s cricket chairman last week felt moved to publicly criticise members who had bemoaned his performances.
Besides Hayes only Moshin Imtiaz made double figures as Ali (3-28) Hayhurst (3-14) and David Ormerod (4-45) cashed in to rout the pitiful home side, 82-4 at one point, for 93 all out.
Church won easily for the third successive game as injury-hit visitors Rawtenstall’s 133-9 from 33 overs proved inadequate.
Without Andy Payne and Jon Kerrigan, Rawtenstall had teenage opener Sam Excell to thank for a battling maiden half-century.
Andy Clough made 28 and helped add 56 for the second wicket.
Debutant Nafis Khan made 27 but with Excell run out, Church professional Saeed Anwar (5-45) and Andrew Bentley (3-51) claimed wickets at regular intervals to staunch the run flow.
No-one on the Rawtenstall side could do likewise though, although Rizwan Shafiq nipped home captain Craig Fergusson out early.
From that moment on it was never in doubt as Cup Final MOTM Levi Wolfenden added another unbeaten 50 to his collection and pro Anwar teed off so spectacularly that spectators were racing to protect their car windows from his huge hits as he hammered his way to 70 not out and a nine-wicket win with 12 overs to spare.
Rishton have won more games than many predicted after a sorry start.
They claimed a notable scalp, beating Todmorden at home on Sunday to end any dreams of the title going to the Yorkshire side.
Sub pro Ghulam Bodi was the star with the bat but a teenager who is looking more impressive by the week took the bowling honours for James Bibby’s side in Afaq Ali Sartaj.
Bodi made 72 not out in a 37 over game, adding 57 for the second wicket with Sean Wyse after the early loss of Abdul Biswoodal. Following the loss of a couple more wickets, Bibby then joined the pro in another vital partnership – 52 for the fourth wicket – before the captain was run out.
With only 148 to defend Rishton might have feared the worst but that was reckoning without the excellence of slow-left-armer Afaq Ali Sartaj.
The teenager ran through Tod’s top order despite most of them getting a start and picked up 7-49 as the White Rose outfit finished five short of winning.
Biswoodal picked up the other two wickets to fall.
Despite an abysmal batting effort, Enfield went close to defeating Burnley at Dill Hall Lane.
In a match unaffected by the weather, Adam Bracewell’s side were bowled out for 76, only the skipper with 30 having any reason to be satisfied with his efforts.
But another remarkable spell from Enfield’s Werner Coetsee – who has signed for next season – turned the game back Enfield’s way.
The South African off-spinner took 8-24 from 16 overs to reduce the visitors from 33-2 to 75-9 but Cole Hayman got the visitors home with the winning runs off Zahir Afzal.