SOMETIMES cricket results have only a tenuous link to the form of the respective sides.
And cricket’s great unpredictability has always had the perfect ingredients for a surprising result in Lancashire League derbies.
But the prospect of an upset in Sunday’s derby between Bacup and Haslingden looked mighty slim with the game coming only two weeks after the Bentgate outfit comprehensively annihilated their opponents by posting a league record total in the reverse fixture.
However few should have underestimated Bacup’s ability to react to that stinging embarrassment.
And the Lanehead team rose to the occasion and restored pride to their ranks with a 39-run win over their title-chasing visitors.
But the derailment of Haslingden’s title assault may only be temporary as they still hold a 22-point lead over reigning champions Accrington, who have played a game more.
Haslingden drew first blood at Lanehead by winning the toss and putting the hosts in to bat.
And a familiar sense of foreboding must have crept through the home ranks when home professional Ryan Broad heard the death rattle before he had scored with Jack Sudworth claiming the wicket.
But at 1-1, Bacup found a partnership that helped them transform their fortunes and build the foundation for a victory.
Their saviours were opener Paul Gallagher and Tim Farragher, two stalwarts from Bacup’s triple championship winning teams at the turn of the millennium.
Gallagher made the most of being dropped early and took the more aggressive approach as Farragher kept up the other end.
The opener cracked 78 runs from 138 balls that included 11 fours and Farragher notched 44 in a patient innings that contained seven fours.
By the time the stand was broken, Bacup had 115 runs on the board and were well on their way to a defendable total.
Anthony Taylor (12), Joe McCluskie (12) and Peter Killelea (19) helped boost the score before the innings closed on 199-9 with hosts denying their rivals bonus bowling points.
It was a marvellous recovery by Bacup in the face of adversity but once the Haslingden reply started it looked like the hosts had not got enough on the board.
Visiting professional Phil Hayes and skipper Graham Knowles soon had the tin boys working overtime as they made a half century opening stand.
But then Andrew Spencer struck a double blow for the hosts when he had Knowles caught by his counterpart Peter Killelea.
And then he claimed the precious scalp of all-rounder Steve Dearden, who had tubbed 150 not out in the previous encounter, for a duck when he was caught by Hartley.
That left Haslingden on 59-2 but Hayes and Chris Read then rebuilt the innings with a partnership of 44 before the pro was run out by Anthony Taylor with the total on 103.
Hayes knock of 63 came off just 78 balls and contained five fours and three sixes.
Hayes’ departure blew open the door for Bacup, who turned to their professional Broad and he routed the middle and lower order to end the day with 6-37.
The Aussie paid man’s memorable afternoon started with the wicket of Chris Read (16), who was trapped in front on 105.
And the carnage continued with another five wickets falling in 19 runs and Pemberton (23), Coleman, Imtiaz, Joe Marcroft and finally Sudworth falling to the Aussie talisman.
Sandwiched among that lot was the wicket of Rob Marcroft, who provided Peter Fell with his one wicket of the day as Haslingden were skittled out for 141 runs but picked up two batting bonus points.
Haslingden skipper Graham Knowles said: "It was disappointing and was a kick up the backside. We did not go into it complacent because we knew it was going to be a tough game.
"I cannot remember winning up there and they are a resilient bunch; no doubt about it. We had them on the rack at 102 -2 chasing 180 and to go from 102-2 to 140 all out tells you that we did not bat very well.
"I think the game turned on two incidents. We dropped Paul Gallagher when he was 15 and then Phil (Hayes) ran himself out when he was well set.
"There was a little bit of rain about and we made a bit of a dash for it and then it cleared again. At 102-2 we were murdering them and then we threw it away.
"Paul Gallagher batted well but Steve Dearden bowled fantastically well. Paul must have played and missed sometimes four times in an over and then put the bad ball for four.
"He got some good support from Tim Farragher and it has happened up there before when they have got 180 to 190 and we have fallen short. They applied the pressure and we did not withstand that pressure and it is something that we will have to put right if we are to win the league."
Bacup skipper Peter Killelea said: "We were well pleased with the result, especially with the hammering that we took two weeks before. I said before the game that all that we wanted to do was the same as we did the week before at Rishton.
"When we lost the pro early their tails were up and they expected to go on from there and roll us over.
"But Gally got in the 70s and we got a few to chip around him and that gave us a chance.
"We thought when we got 190 that we had enough and would be able to defend it and everything went according to plan."