Sport

Accrington skipper calls for focus as title draws nearer

The Lancashire League’s top team are sitting pretty with a 35-point cushion, as the club prepare for the weekend fixtures against Bacup and Nelson

Enfield’s Kieran Demaine

Accrington are aiming to preserve their lead at the top of the Foster’s Lancashire League table – but captain Graham Lloyd is warning his players to avoid complacency.

The Lancashire League’s top team are sitting pretty with a 35-point cushion, as the club prepare for the weekend fixtures against Bacup and Nelson.

Reigning champions and main title rivals Lowerhouse suffered a defeat in their own back yard at the hands of Accrington last weekend.

Lloyd revelled in the victory, as he believes the club took a significant stride towards glory.

“It was a very good day and win for us, because we are quite a few points clear at the top of the table,” he said.

But the skipper acknowledges shocks may occur in the league, especially after his players recently tasted defeat to East Lancs and Ramsbottom.

“You never know what may happen, as there are more games to play, but it is certainly in our hands,” he said.

“I think the players know not to get complacent, but I’ll continue to say it..”

Accrington batted a resounding sum of 215 against Lowerhouse with Graeme Sneddon joining Lloyd in grabbing a half-century.

Ashar Zaidi disrupted the Lowerhouse innings by bowling out five players, while David Ormerod collected his 1,300th Lancashire League wicket.

Church captain Craig Fergusson is confident of maintaining their winning streak with games against Nelson and East Lancs this weekend.

Fergusson’s team have climbed up the league after five wins in a row, including victories against Lowerhouse, Haslingden and Enfield.

As a result, the skipper is full of praise for his players and believes they are capable of continuing their fine form.

“We’ve played very well in the last few weekends and have been working our way up in the league,” he said.

“The middle of the table has opened up quite nicely and we will go into the games with a lot of confidence.”

Church started last weekend with a six-wicket home victory against Haslingden, as Andrew Bentley took 4-32.

Levi Wolfenden scored 60, leaving Fergusson and Sam Holt to add another 17 to finish the innings and earn 12 points.

Todmorden were the next team to submit as professional Kasun Bodhisha celebrated a maiden league century.

“The whole dressing room was very happy for him,” Fergusson revealed.

“He struggled early doors in reaching a big score, but hopefully he will be able to keep piling on the runs.”

Church left Todmorden with a five-wicket win, despite an impressive total of 204 runs posted by the hosts.

As well as Bodhisha’s performance, Wolfenden hit another half-century.

Rishton professional Daniel Salpietro claims victories and a whole team performance are far more important than individual statistics as they host Todmorden before travelling to Enfield.

All-rounder Salpietro excelled in last weekend’s fixtures with five wickets against Rawtenstall and an unbeaten century versus Colne.

Despite his impressive bowling performance on Saturday, Rawtenstall recorded a 56-run victory – a dampener on the weekend for the Australian.

“It was an enjoyable weekend, but the loss to Rawtenstall took a little bit of the sting out of the two days,” he said.

Rawtenstall were also formidable in their bowling attack, as Keith Roscoe dismissed Rishton for 93 runs by taking 6-35.

However, Rishton bounced back with victory against Colne.

Salpietro reached the boundary on 16 occasions to pass 500 runs for the season, as Rishton surpassed Colne’s score of 181.

Shadley van Schalkwyk top-scored for Colne with 55 runs, but Scott Greaves ousted the batsman along with five others.

Salpietro hailed Greaves’ effort, admitting he’d accept a miserable individual showing as long as the team won.

He said: “I always say to the boys, it isn't about me getting all the runs or wickets. It is about everybody contributing and earning the win.

“I’d be happy to go out for a duck and collect no wickets if we win both games at the weekend. We just have to play good cricket.”

Enfield are facing Burnley and Rishton this weekend, as the club looks to build on victories against Bacup and Haslingden.

Captain Adam Bracewell and his players had a five-wicket win over Bacup as Kieran Demaine and Joe Wrigley refused to buckle under pressure.

However, the club looked rattled after Bacup’s Jo Sipocz and Peter Fell dismissed the top four batsmen with 21 runs scored.

The hosts recovered thanks to Demaine and Wrigley, while Tiarnan Hamill also chipped in with 26 runs before pace bowler Joe McCluskie outwitted him.

Demaine scored an unbeaten career best 62 and Wrigley bolstered the score with 48.

Aubrey Swanepoel and Matt Collinge made the biggest contributions to Bacup’s 171 with 40 runs each.

Enfield followed up Saturday’s win by beating Haslingden and joining Lowerhouse on 121 points in the league table.

Professional Brad Moses hit 85 runs and, aided by Bracewell (65), set a challenging total for Haslingden.

The visitors were up against it in the early stages with openers Graham Knowles (5) and Jack Taylor (0) dismissed.

Brenton Parchment sparked a revival by hitting 107, but the other batsmen failed to back that up as Enfield dismissed their opponents for 208, sealing a 46-run victory.