Oswaldtwtistle Immanuel are on the up – and a Ramsbottom Cup success would show they really are a team who have hit the big time.
The Back Lane side have gone from strength to strength in recent years after having quite a few battles at the wrong end of the table in their early life in the senior league.
But an ever-improving line-up over the years and a sixth place finish in the last campaign is certainly making them a team to watch out for – just ask title chasers Read, who they beat last Saturday.
And while a league title may be too far away this season, the Ramsbottom Cup is definitely one to aim for.
Standing in their way of a semi-final spot is defending league champions and cup holders Baxenden on Sunday but there is certainly no fear from the Immanuel camp.
Skipper Imran Abid said: "We have got all the ingredients to do well.
"We are bowling well – Gerard Metcalf is the second top wicket-taker in the league and the two of us have more than 50 wickets altogether this season.
"I think we have one of the best amateur bowling line-ups in the league and we know we are always capable of bowling sides out.
"And batting, our pro Chris Cook-Martin was the match winner against Read last week and he is an awesome player who can win games for us.
"And five or six amateurs have got more than 50 as well this season.
"We have all the ingredients and it is just about them all coming together.
"Hopefully they will on Sunday and we will get some silverware that I think we deserve after the effort and determination of the team over the last few years."
Immanuel’s victory over Read was one to brag about as their pro Cook-Martin found his form. The paid man has been bemoaning his lack of runs this season as he looks to emulate his last campaign as paid man in the Bolton League where he got 900 runs.
But his 91 in 116 balls against Read – with 10 boundaries and six maximums – took him to 274 runs for the season as Ossy made 156.
Read lost wickets steadily and were finally dismissed for 133, Gerard Metcalf and Abid taking four wickets each.
Veteran Metcalf is having a stunning season so far, with 28 scalps this season. Skipper Abid is not far behind him with 24.
"It was a really good win for us," said the Immanuel skipper. "Read have probably the best batting line-up in the league and we bowled them out, which was a massive boost for us.
"Then Chris’s 91 was more like a 150 really as it was not a batting wicket. It was a defining knock and won us the match.
"We have another big game tomorrow against Clitheroe who are a good side but we do fancy our chances. To be honest, I still think the league is wide open. Some people are saying look no further than Baxenden but Clitheroe are a really good side and Read will push them all the way. Either one of these could topple Baxenden."
And Immanuel hope to do just that on Sunday. "It’s massive for us that we are at home. Home advantage is a big thing. We got them out for 125 at our place last season so a repeat of that will do nicely."
Champions Baxenden are now eight points clear at the top of the table after defeating rivals Cherry Tree by five wickets on Saturday.
Cherry were restricted to 180-8 with Bash professional Baber Naeem taking 6-66 and Mark Hadfield top scoring with 65.
Naeem then made 56 in the successful run chase to make sure Baxenden have only lost one league game this season.
Great Harwood chalked up their second win on the bounce as they look to move towards mid-table – but it was a nail-biting last-ball victory against league new boys Salesbury.
Harwood looked to be struggling at 42-3 before pro Raouf Akbar came in and hit a stunning 115 in 95 balls with 10 boundaries and three sixes as they chalked up 208.
Salesbury led the chase well, with Stuart Maher taking four wickets, and it came down to the last ball and Harwood scraped through with three runs.
l The Ribblesdale League side tasted success in the JW Lees Inter-League Trophy at the weekend. In a team containing Baxenden’s Mark Rishton and Gary Sudworth and Harwood bowler Stuart Maher, they beat the Central Lancashire League 3-1 on a bowl-out at Middleton.