League leaders Accrington continued their rampant start to the season with their 11th consecutive league win over lowly Colne on Saturday.
Accy bowled their visitors out for just 93 in 30.2 overs and the Thorneyholme Road side were set a revised target of 73 from 21 overs.
They only needed 7.4 overs and reached the target with eight wickets in hand to maintain their 100 per cent record.
With Haslingden suffering a shock home defeat to Nelson, they slipped to third in the table behind Lowerhouse, allowing Accy to stretch their lead to 29 points after securing all 12 against Colne.
Team captain Graham Lloyd has hailed his side’s incredible start to the season, but has kept his feet firmly on the ground and refuses to get complacent.
“It has been a terrific start,” said Lloyd. “Inevitably we will lose eventually; we won’t win game after game after game. But we have put ourselves in a great position up to now.”
The bowling attack of the Accrington team has been widely complimented all season and the strength in depth of the bowlers was shown again in Saturday’s win. Jimmy Hayhurst took three wickets for just 15 runs, but was backed up with professional Ashar Zaidi, Dave Ormerod and Simon Hanson all taking two wickets for themselves. Zaidi claimed 2-15 and Ormerod recorded 2-56, but Simon Hanson came back to the clubhouse with the most impressive figures, 2-5.
“It’s a great asset,” Lloyd said of Accrington’s bowling attack. “They are all excellent bowlers and they all have their own individual strengths.”
Zaidi followed up his solid bowling performance with a match-winning performance with the bat. Facing just 24 balls, the Pakistani pro hit eight fours and a six to record an unbeaten 47.
Lloyd, who was out early on for just four runs, is glad the team have a professional they can rely on in all aspects.
“He has everything you want from a matchday pro and he did the same on Saturday,” said the Accy skipper.
“He has been superb all season, but somebody has always stepped up and won us the match.”
This weekend, Accrington face one of their toughest tests of the season when they travel to title hopefuls Ramsbottom.
Lloyd is wary of the threats that the Ramsbottom team possess and believes that a top class performance is the only way they will come away with a win.
“Ramsbottom are one of the best teams in the league,” he said. “The set-up will be the same as it has been all year.
“They have a great team. Jon Fielding is a very good pro, he is a top bowler and they have great batsmen. We will have to be at the top of our game to win against them.”
Fourth-placed Ramsbottom lost further ground in the title race with a ‘no result’ at Church last weekend.
After seeing the match reduced to 29 overs per side, Church restricted Ramsbottom to 139-9 and were desperate to follow up their eight-wicket victory over Bacup with another win after previously struggling to find form.
Despite more rain interruptions, Church had to chase the full total and finished on 118-5 after 13 overs, leaving bowler Andrew Bentley frustrated at another anti-climax because of the weather.
“The disappointing thing is that you are there to play cricket,” he said. “It’s hard because you get up in the morning and you are excited to play. Once you’re playing you want an outcome and I think we were there until about 8pm on Saturday.
“It’s disappointing to have three points at 1pm when you turn up and then still come out with three points at 8pm.”
Professional Kasun Bodisha claimed 4-70 from 14 overs while Lloyd Aspin took 2-42 from 10.
There were also three run-outs as Ramsbottom were pushing for runs late on.
Sunday sees Church visit Lowerhouse, who moved into second place last weekend, but Bentley reckons the impressive performance against Ramsbottom gives Church belief.
“Obviously it would be great to get a result against Lowerhouse,” he said. “They are different games against the top teams in the league. To play as well as we did against Ramsbottom only breeds confidence.”
Enfield’s home match against Rawtenstall was reduced to 23 overs, from which they made 112-8.
Tiarnan Hamill made 45 but the highlight of the innings was Rawtenstall’s Keith Roscoe claiming his 1,500th Lancashire League wicket.
He finished with 3-63 while Imran Abid took 5-49.
Rain then stopped play during Rawtenstall’s reply with the visitors 76-1 after 12.2 overs, Brad Moses with the only wicket.
Enfield are 10 points behind Ramsbottom in fifth and on Sunday visit East Lancs, who are 12 points behind in sixth.
Rishton enjoyed a six-wicket win at second-bottom Bacup, with Kelly Mall taking 8-25 as the hosts were bowled out for 140.
Pro Daniel Salpietro then hit an unbeaten 82 to help Rishton reach 142 with six wickets and 17 overs to spare, giving them 12 points and ensuring they remain joint-seventh with Nelson.
Rishton host third-placed Haslingden on Sunday but first they welcome East Lancs as the final 20/20 group games are played this Friday.
Enfield are the only local side set to go through to the semi-finals as they top Group A after a six-wicket win at home to East Lancs last Friday.
Kieran Demaine took 2-21 as East Lancs finished on 175-5, which Enfield passed with 11 balls and six wickets left. Pro Brad Moses scored an unbeaten 49 while Adam Bracewell hit 43.
The Dill Hill Lane outfit top the group ahead of Accrington, who they visit on Friday.
Accy can still go through but would need to beat Enfield and pull off a huge swing in net run rate to progress as either a group winner or the best runner-up.
Accy won by three wickets at Church last Friday, meaning the hosts have lost all four group games. Pro Kasun Bodisha (39) top scored as Church made 139-7, with Accy counterpart Ashar Zaidi taking 3-23.
The visitors then reached their target with a ball to spare, Marley Ali (40) top scoring as they finished on 142/7.
Last Sunday’s Worsley Cup semi-finals, so Haslingden host Nelson on Saturday while Burnley resume their home tie against Lowerhouse.