CHURCH bowler Nick Westwell admits this weekend's double header could go some way to deciding the final positions in the Lancashire League table.
Church and Rishton are both eyeing a run to take them into at least the top six placings and both will be in the hunt for double wins - although they face each other tomorrow.
Enfield, meanwhile, are looking to make a move to mid-table out of the second-off-bottom spot while Accrington desperatley need a win tomorrow against Enfield to avoid the unwanted record of 16 straight league defeats.
"This weekend is crucial for every team with it being a double header," said Westwell, whose side finished runners-up last summer. "I think on Sunday night, the league will really have started to take shape for the rest of the season.
"We want two wins from this weekend and, if we can go on a run and win three or four games, we can make a push for the top four."
Westwell admitted that Church had found it hard in this campaign after just missing out on the title last season. He said: "It has been a hard season so far for us as I think that the standard of the league has increased with teams adding one amateur batsman and bowler to their sides.
"And I think, after what happened last season, when we did so well, it means teams are ready for us. We haven't done as well but with the win last Sunday against Colne - who have been one of our bogey teams - we have shown slight signs of turning it round. We are not a million miles away but it has been disappointing after last year."
Adam Greenwood was the star of the show for Church with 75 - including 13 boundaries - with pro Ruven Peiris making 56 although he is still searching for his first ton this season.
Andrew Bentley - who has taken over 40 wickets in each of the last two seasons - has been desperate to claim a few more scalps in this campaign and his 6-58 will have done him the world of good. Church won by 112 runs to give them a boost after a poor run.
"Andy and Adam both did well," said Westwell. "Andy is a tremendous talent but sometimes tries too hard like I used to. He needed to show a bit more patience and he got his reward on Sunday with the six wickets. And Adam is hard to bowl at as he has a good eye. Ruven is also as solid as a rock. He just wants to train all the time, he is mad keen, and he is a good friend on and off the field. His bowling has improved a lot and he has signed for next year and he just wants to keep getting better."
Church will be hoping to continue their charge against Rishton and Todmorden this weekend.
"Rishton are a good side with two ex-Test players so they are strong but we have to set our stall out to win both games," he said.
And Scott Greaves' side will have to beware of Westwell who has taken 38 wickets so far this season. He added: "I have just been doing the simple things. I know on one or two weeks, I have got a hammering but you can't do well every week in the Lancashire League as it is a tough league. I am positive, though, every week."
RISHTON celebrated a 63 run win over Bacup as they look to claim a top six place for themselves. The Blackburn Road side set a target of 177 thanks to 32 from Parvez Kazi, 31 from pro Kumar Dharmasena and 26 from Shaun Wyse.
But the person who really made a difference was young bowler Richard Rostron who, in the absence of step father Peter Sleep who was with the Crusaders squad, took a career-best 6-27 to seal 12 points for them. They are at Church tomorrow and face title challengers Lowerhouse on Sunday.
Meanwhile the match of the day tomorrow will be ACCRINGTON facing ENFIELD as the Thorneyholme Road team try to stop the record of 16 straight league defeats.
Matt Wilson's side were hoping not to equal Rishton's two year record of 15 successive losses when they took on Todmorden on Sunday.
But they failed to perform with the bat with pro Tama Canning out for a duck and it was ominous at 9-3 although the Wilson brothers - Matt and Adam - made a fight of it in the middle order with Matt grabbing six fours in his 30 and Adam making 32.
Former skipper Damian Clarke scored a season high 29 to take their tally to a respectable 159 all out but Tod pro Gyan Pandey hit an unbeaten 89 and it was more gloom for bottom club Accrington.
Enfield lie just above them - although 19 points ahead - after they were unable to stop Nelson chalking up their fifth straight win on Sunday. Despite paid man Alviro Petersen making 55, Nelson strolled to a five wicket win.
Following the derby, Accrington take on title chasing Nelson on Sunday while Enfield are at home to Colne.