GREAT Harwood will be hoping to get their revenge in the Ribblesdale League after Read denied them a Ramsbottom Cup victory.
In a thrilling finale, after Harwood had set 272-8, Read needed three off the final two overs at Padiham.
They thought they had got it when Peter Sleep appeared to hit a boundary but Russell Whalley had actually stopped it and the quick-thinking fielder threw the ball in and Sleep was stumped while celebrating in the centre of the wicket.
"Russell and Peter used to play together and he hoodwinked him," said Harwood captain Gordon Simpson. "I thought it was quite funny. It was inevitable, anyway, they would win at that stage."
Incoming batsman Oliver Newby made sure he sealed the victory by hitting the vital four off the next ball.
However, despite Read having a 12 point gap at the top of the table, Harwood still harbour hopes of the league title - and as the two meet on the final day of the season, there could be another 'cup final.'
Read skipper Warren Eastham admitted he wants it all sewn up before then. "We need four wins out of our final five games. I am sure Harwood will make sure they are still in it but it is in our hands."
Harwood had seemed on course for a cup victory with Allan Armer (61 with nine fours and two sixes) and pro Andy Crook (70) forming a solid opening partnership before Armer was caught on the boundary by Andy Bennett.
But next in was big-hitting Whalley and there was talk of a figure of 300 for the Harwood side. Eastham was trying all his bowling combinations with himself, Oliver Newby, Bennett and Craig Walton trying to make the breakthrough.
Whalley and Crook did chalk up a 117 partnership but were parted when Andrew Turner took a stunning catch, making up a lot of ground to see off Crook.
In the next over, Harwood suffered again when Whalley (53) clipped the ball and Joel Marshall made a diving catch. In-form Paul Houldsworth was next in - but his was a quick visit as he was back in the pavilion for eight.
The blue-haired Ian Howarth then lined up alongside Andy MacNicholas but the latter was soon dismissed for 10. Howarth then went as Harwood went from 203-2 to 238-6 in rapid time.
Matt Howarth was run out going for a quick single but Paul Newton and Liam Deasey did make Sleep suffer, both hitting him for six in the final over although he did dismiss Newton with the final ball of the innings.
Still at 272-8, and with the sky darkening, Harwood were the favourites. They didn't, though, account for openers Terry Little and Nick Marsh, who get used to the shout of "old codgers" when they run out. There was a huge appeal by Stuart Maher early on for lbw and Little was also agonisingly dropped.
However, the duo got into their stride and were only stopped by Whalley when Marsh (77) was clean bowled - although they had made a staggering 186.
And Harwood's nerves couldn't be calmed as the next man in was pro Sleep. However there was some relief when Maher got Little in the next over for 100. Read were, though, in control on 210-2 with 10 overs left.
Walton didn't hang around long as he was caught by Crook for 13 but there was still plenty of overs and wickets left.
Eastham went with the score on 254-4, needing 19 to win off four overs. However two fours closed the gap and despite Simpson bowling Matt Whalley, they needed just three off two overs. Then came the mix-up which saw Sleep dismissed for 30 - however the next boundary did it.
- HARWOOD host Whalley tomorrow while they visit Oswaldtwistle on Sunday. Baxenden have a big game at Read tomorrow and visit Edenfield on Sunday. Immanuel are at home to Barnoldswick tomorrow.