Accrington moved inexorably towards the Lancashire League title with two more victories last weekend.
The Thorneyholme Road side even managed to beat Nelson when they didn’t realise it!
But with the rule book working in their favour and the weather conspiring against their rivals, Accrington can start buying in the champagne for the celebration party.
“When we came off the field we thought we had tied,” explained first team manager Ian Wilson.
“It wasn’t until 20 minutes after the match we found out we had won.
“Apparently league rules say there can’t be a tie in a rain affected game. If the side chasing doesn’t reach its required target then they lose the game and that’s what happened to Nelson.
“It was a great end to a day when everything seemed to conspire against us from the moment we lost the toss. But the spirit shown by the side was fantastic.
“Nelson only needed one run off the last ball and you would have expected them to get it. Instead, they played the ball back to our professional Ashar Zaidi – and he ran out their batsman.”
Accrington’s win, helped by ‘no results’ for champions Lowerhouse, Rishton and Ramsbottom leaves them 47 points clear at the summit. Another 38 points from the last seven games should give them the silverware.
Accrington, put into bat and again without skipper Graham Lloyd, reached 184-5 when rain ended their innings in the 45th over.
Zaidi showed his class with an unbeaten 82 from 78 balls including eight fours and three sixes. Harrison Phelan claimed 3-33 along with two catches to dismiss Graeme Sneddon (24) and Simon Hanson (18).
Rain reduced Nelson’s target to 117 from 23 overs and they batted steadily to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Paid man Ryan Canning top scored with 38 not out while Lewis Bradley added 21.
With one ball to go, Nelson just needed a single with Canning on strike.
The South African hit the ball straight back at Zaidi who threw down the wicket before Meade could make halfway leaving Canning high and dry and Nelson on 116.
Against Bacup 24 hours earlier, it was an easier route to victory – Accrington’s record extending 10th home win in a row.
Sneddon (41), Zaidi (42), an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 30 plus 41 extras, including 30 wides, helped Accy to 199-8.
In Bacup’s reply, skipper Joe McCluskie bashed four boundaries and two sixes in his quick-fire 31. But only two other batsmen reached double figures and Accrington won by 93 runs.
Jimmy Hayhurst took 5-24 with David Ormerod (2-41) and Zaidi (2-25) also weighing in with wickets.
Accrington host eighth placed Todmorden on Sunday but will again be without Lloyd plus Ormerod and Simon Hansen. Liam Smalley and Mitch Taylor will deputise.
“It’s another tough fixture because ‘Tod’ had a very good win against Haslingden last weekend,” added Taylor. “But we are not getting too carried away.”
Rishton travel to Worsley Cup finalists, Burnley, searching for a new professional next season. The club announced Australian Dan Salpietro will leave at the end of the campaign.
And Salpietro confirmed to the Observer: “I just think the club needs to go in a different direction and there comes a time when you have to move forward with your own career.
“I have already sat down and spoken to the captain about how Rishton can move forward. I have had an amazing time in the last two years and I want to help them finish as high up in the league as possible.”
Rishton’s chances of a big finish weren’t helped by last weekend’s results – a nine-wicket defeat against Todmorden and a washed out fixture against Enfield.
After his recent run spree Salpietro suffered a rare failure with the bat but still top-scored with 31 from Rishton’s 159-7 from 48 overs.
Enfield eventually finished on 106-3 from 17 overs with pro Brad Moses unbeaten on 51 from 52 balls. Connor Tattersall marked his senior debut with Joe Wrigley’s wicket.
Salpietro (38) also hit the highest score at Centre Vale in his team’s 165-9. Geeth Alwis claimed 5-40 and was at the crease on 26 when victory was achieved with nearly 15 overs to spare.
However, Todmorden’s cruise was due to Ben Sutcliffe’s career best 92 not out. The opener hit 14 boundaries and passed 500 runs for the season during his innings.
Church cursed the rain when poised for victory over East Lancashire. When stumps were drawn, East Lancs has slumped to 36-5 in pursuit of 239.
Professional Kasun Bodhisha top scored with 79 from 103 balls and passed 500 runs for the term. Professional Ockert Erasmus (3-41) was the best of the home side’s eight-man bowling attack.
Lloyd Aspin then took all five East Lancs wickets for 22 runs though Minhaj Bhada passed 500 runs during his innings of 16.
The bad weather denied Church a ninth consecutive win after the previous day’s seven wicket success over Nelson at West End. Half centuries by the Aspin brothers-Lloyd (82) and Harvey (59) saw Church home after Nelson had made 232-7.
Lloyd’s knock included nine boundaries and three sixes in bringing up his own 500 runs for the year.
The duo shared a third wicket stand of 129 as Church got home with nearly 15 overs in hand.
Enfield slumped to a second successive home defeat as Burnley turned the tables on them at Dill Hall Lane.
Seven Enfield batters reached double figures in their chase for 184 with David Bracewell and Scott Wilkinson both making 18. But even though Enfield collected a batting bonus point they were dismissed for 136.
They travel to second-placed Lowerhouse this weekend in fifth place, 16 points behind their hosts.