Struggling teams in Walsden’s firing line

THE Central Lancashire League’s trailing teams can expect no mercy from Walsden over the next few weeks.

Chris Dewhirst’s side have really got the bit between their teeth after retaining their eight-point lead over Heywood and seemingly ending third-placed Norden’s title hopes over a rain-hit bank holiday weekend.

No matches were completed on Saturday but Walsden and Heywood both won on Sunday, the Scott Street side chasing down a rain-reduced target of 119 off 31 overs to beat visitors Norden.

Walsden are now in a great position to lift the silverware.

They have five games left, starting at home to bottom club Ashton on Sunday. They then travel to next-to-bottom Oldham and tackle fourth-from-bottom Radcliffe home and away before a final day visit from Heywood.

Norden look out of it, now 14 points behind, and Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale said: “Hopefully we can retain our advantage up to the Heywood game and have it sewn up by then.”

Play at Royton on Saturday started half an hour late and only three overs were possible, the hosts moving to eight for none, before the game was washed out.

Walsden players and officials were at the ground early on Sunday to ensure the Norden game started on time.

Dewhirst won the toss and Norden had lost ex-Lancashire player Dexter Fitton to Stevie Barker and Nick Brierley to Ranil Dhammika when play was halted due to rain with only eight runs on the board.

On the resumption an hour and a half later, Norden were left to complete their 50 overs and took their total to 165 with the help of 40 from Fitton’s son Harvey.

There was another bowling masterclass from Sri Lankan spinner Dhammika who finished with seven for 63 off his 25 overs, taking his wickets tally for the season to 94. Stevie Barker accounted for the other three wickets to fall.

Walsden started their pursuit of 119 in gloomy conditions at 6.25.

Jake Hooson (13) was unluckily run out when the bowler diverted the ball onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end and fellow opener James Rawlinson (13) departed with the total on 28.

However, in-form Matthew Dawson hit an unbeaten 53 to see Walsden home in the 23rd over, hard-hitting Joe Gale (16 no) helping him finish the job after Dhammika and Nick Barker had been out for seven apiece.

Off-spinner Oliver Makin took three wickets but Walsden were relieved to reach the winning post with doubts about what would happen if the umpires had to bring the players off again.

Walsden have Jamie Shackleton back for the Ashton game but fellow medium quick bowler Stevie Barker is an absentee.