IF RISHTON can’t reclaim their Lancashire League title then they want local rivals Accrington to come out on top.
That’s the verdict of the Blackburn Road vice captain Scott Greaves who, although not giving up their champions status yet, would prefer to see Accrington take their crown more than anyone else.
"I am chuffed to bits for Accrington to be in the Worsley Cup final and be challenging for the league," said Greaves, who is in charge this weekend with captain Andy Bartley away.
"David Ormerod has come in and has an attitude like we had last season - you have nothing to lose so just have a go.
"And it has worked for them. They are a capable side and have had a bad time probably for about the last 10 years.
"But now, every credit to them, and I hope, if we can’t, then they win the league.
"I hope they carry on their good form - apart from when they play us again!"
Greaves admits he can’t put his finger on what has gone wrong for Rishton this season after they were crowned Lancashire League champions in the last weekend last season.
There were high expectations they could build on their title success especially with the addition of Richard Rostron, back at the club, and pro Saeed Anwar Junior returning.
But it just hasn’t worked out that way and the Rishton players are scratching their heads. "We are finding it tough this season," said the vice captain. "We are not doing a lot of things wrong but we are just not playing a perfect game.
"Last season we had that little bit of luck in the tighter games and won them and it is just not happening this season.
"We knew there would be higher expectation with us being champions and that teams would raise their game against us and we have tried to counteract things by doing things differently.
"But for some reason we are letting ourselves down. It has just been awkward."
Pakistan pro Saeed Anwar Junior (right) has impressed with the bat with more than 800 runs this season - as he looks to top 1000 after missing out by 11 runs in the last campaign.
But he has struggled with the ball as, after taking 80 wickets last season, he has only got 28 this season with half the campaign gone.
"It just isn’t working out for him bowling-wise," said Greaves. "He says he feels okay with his bowling but we have got into positions where we should be winning games but the bowling has let us down and the game has turned around."
And it is not just the paid man who is struggling. "Last season, we had more of a set pattern with bowling - we all had our jobs. I opened, then it was John Seedle, next was maybe Garth Wyse and then the pro.
"Now we have strong additions in Richard Rostron and Shaun Hutchinson and everyone is swapping and changing and we don’t seem to have got any consistency.
"It is just one of those things. We have been trying different things and trying to mix it up and we haven’t found a right balance. We are just trying to get it to click back together."
Rishton were still in with a chance of silverware as they reached the semi-final of the 20/20 competition - which they won in 2006 - but missed out to East Lancs in a tight game on Friday.
Rishton made 111-8 with Craig Smith and skipper Bartley top scoring with 24 each.
East Lancs had former Baxenden pro Jonathan Fielding in for them and he took two wickets.
But in reply, it looked shaky and, with just six overs left, East Lancs still needed 50 for victory.
But their big hitters came into play and they were left needing six off Anwar’s final over.
Andy Clague did the business smashing the ball for the vital runs with just three balls left to end Rishton’s bid to reclaim the trophy.
"We are absolutely gutted about that," said Greaves. "We love the 20/20, it is a great spectacle and we had a great support and we let them and ourselves down.
"We should have got about 130/40 which would have been a competitive score on that wicket but we didn’t accelerate enough.
"We tried to restrict them bowling but they had a bit of luck with an inside edge in the penultimate over which left them needing six off the last over which is always gettable.
"We believed we had a good chance of winning that competition and it was gutting. We have been in the semi-final for the last four years and won it once so we have got to make sure we bounce back next year."
But firstly they have to concentrate on this season and a local derby against Church on Sunday.
"We are a bit short as Andy Bartley is missing and Richard Rostron has injured his wrist playing football and could be out for the rest of the season.
"Tiernan Hamill is also away but it gives the likes of Mark and Matt Leathert a chance and Luke McVarish is only young but has heaps of potential.
"Hopefully they can come in and do well and the likes of me, Jimmy Bibby, John Seedle and Craig Smith can use our experience to see us through.
"We haven’t had a consistent side this season and that is perhaps another reason why we haven’t done as well but we want to make sure we have a good second half."
RISHTON slipped to a 69-run defeat against Haslingden last weekend after the rain caused chaos with the fixtures. Haslingden made a huge 219 and it proved too much for Rishton despite 49 from Anwar.
CHURCH were the victors in their local derby with Enfield. David Bracewell’s side made just 61 and Church passed their revised target with ease. The top of the table clash between Accrington and Rawtenstall will be replayed on the fifth fixed date.