Stuart Maher says its Great Harwood’s biggest game of the season when they take on Whalley on Sunday in the quarter-finals of the Ramsbottom Cup.
The Harwood skipper admits the league season has not gone to plan and now the focus is on the two cup competitions – with Harwood going well in the Twenty20 competition and looking to boost their season with victory in the Ribblesdale League’s cup competition.
"It is our biggest game of the season so far," said bowler Maher.
"We feel we have a good chance in the Ramsbottom Cup as we are in the favourable end of the draw.
"If we beat Whalley on Sunday then we face either Salesbury or Ribblesdale Wanderers at home. They are still tough games but we have avoided Baxenden and Read who are going well at the top of the league.
"I would love to win this competition as I have never won it.
"We got beaten by Settle at Settle a few years ago and we lost at Padiham against Read too.
"The last time Great Harwood did win it was 2001 and, five weeks before, I got injured and was playing for the second team and couldn’t force my way back in.
"So personally it’s something I want to win and, for the club, 10 years has been a long time since we last won it and so we want to push on towards the final."
In the Twenty20, Harwood are also eyeing a final spot after doing well in the group stages of the competition.
They have beat Salesbury and Feniscowles so far, take on Cherry Tree tonight before a final Group game against Whalley.
"This is something we can win," said 29-year-old Maher.
"We won the first Twenty20 when the league introduced the competition and we have been runners-up for two of the years.
"It’s a competition that seems to suit us so hopefully we can do well again.
"This is a big weekend for us as, if we lose, especially on Sunday, then it will feel like we haven’t a lot left to play for."
Harwood have had a disappointing league campaign.
More used to battling at the top, the 2008 champions are just four spots off the bottom and face a tough derby at Oswaldtwistle Immanuel.
"Ossie are a bit like us in that they have started off the season well but dropped off in the least few games," continued Maher.
"We have had a disappointing couple of weeks as we have lost games from decent positions.
"We should have chased down Baxenden’s score, we should have beat Padiham as I think we had them at 70-7 and we should have done the same with Ribblesdale Wanderers as they were in a similar position but we still allowed them to get to 142 which proved too much for us – we coudn’t finish the job off and that’s been the story of the season so far.
"But we need a win tomorrow although Ossie are a decent side and their captain¿Nick Payne works for our player Russell Whalley at EW Cartons so there has been plenty of banter flying around – we just hope it’s us that are laughing on Monday."
In the league, Baxenden remain slight favourites for the league title and gained a useful home win over Cherry Tree. Paul Turner was the mainstay of the visitors’ innings with 96 from 213-4.
But, though Bash lost more wickets, they passed their target with three wickets to spare.
Mark Rishton and top scorer Ben Swindells both hit half centuries.
Meanwhile Barnoldswick replaced Read in second place after beating their title rivals by five wickets at Victory Park.
The home side restricted the visitors to 163-7 from 45 overs with Stuart Hornby the only batsman to reach 50. He was one of four victims for Richard Nicholls.
Matt Nutter (56) and Abdul Saddique (30) got Barnoldswick’s reply off to a promising start.
Umar Saddique also hit 53 and the home team achieved their target with more than five overs to spare to give their hopes of clinching the top spot a boost.
Barnoldswick’s ninth win of the campaign leaves them eight points behind leaders Baxenden and three points clear of Read.
Meanwhile, unfortunately for Ossie, Naeem Ashraf produced the innings of the day with an unbeaten 133 as champions Clitheroe won again.
He made his runs from 109 balls and included 12 boundaries and eight sixes.
Sub professional Imad Wasim-Burnley’s regular paid man-claimed 5-30 as Immanuel were dismissed for 92, captain Nick Payne top scoring with 44 while opener Oliver Jones made 25.