Walsden keen to send Scott Street visitors packing

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The success or failure of Walsden’s 2014 campaign could hinge on four crunch home games in the space of nine days from Saturday.

James Rawlinson’s men remain second, five points behind Norden with 18 games still to go in the Central Lancashire League season.

The champions cross swords with the leaders on Saturday before facing another of their big rivals, Heywood, at Scott Street on Sunday.

The run of home games continues against derby foes Littleborough the following Saturday and Walsden then bid to make further progress in the Lancashire Cup against Glossop 24 hours later.

At least Walsden are close to strength with spinner Richard Sladdin the only absentee.

Danny Brown retains the wicket keeping gloves ahead of Dan Howley, who returns in the seconds after a three-match ban following a brush with an umpire.

Matthew Dawson and Kristian Halstead, who only play once a weekend, turn out on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale said: “It could be a pivotal weekend. Norden are very strong all-round and Heywood will certainly be no pushovers.”

Walsden had a seven wicket win at Royton last Saturday, making light of the absence of key bowlers.

Joe Gale opened in the absence of Jamie Shackleton and took the first wicket, aided by a stunning one-handed slip catch from Sri Lankan Umesh Karunaratne.

Royton were reasonably placed at 78 for two but subsided to 146 all out after Nick Barker had dismissed pro Pieter Malan for 29 and Karunaratne had bowled the dangerous Alan Durose.

Medium pacer Barker finished with three for 38 - his figures spoiled by an expensive final over - and spinner Karunaratne four for 26.

Walsden lost Jake Hooson (11) on 28 and Rawlinson (19) on 46 but Karunaratne shared stands of 45 with Nick Barker (22) and 57 with Riaz Pathan (27 no) to clinch victory.

Karunaratne hit a six and four to seal victory and bring up his half-century.

Walsden seconds won twice last weekend, but the thirds were without a game.

The seconds beat visitors Unsworth by nine wickets in the league and reached the semi-finals of the Burton Cup with the help of a Cameron Hanson hat-trick in a six-wicket win over Royton.

Former first team skipper Chris Dewhirst and Jon Lord also had good weekends.

Premier Division

P OW LW D T L LP Pts

Norden 10 7 1 2 0 0 0 43

Walsden 10 5 2 2 0 1 1 38

Littleborough 10 5 0 2 0 3 1 30

Heywood 10 3 2 2 0 3 2 29

Rochdale 10 4 0 2 0 4 2 26

Royton 10 2 0 2 0 6 3 17

Clifton 10 1 0 2 0 7 1 10

Werneth 10 0 0 2 0 8 2 6