Walsden ready for big test this weekend

Walsden face an early-season trial of strength against a Heywood side who have made a similarly impressive start to the Central Lancashire League season on Sunday.

Both have won two out of two prior to the Scott Street clash, champions Walsden having followed up their opening day win at Clifton with an eight-wicket home win over Littleborough last Sunday.

“Heywood were challenging all the way last season and have virtually the same team, apart from having a different overseas amateur, so it could be a tough game,” said Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale.

Skipper Chris Dewhirst will be hoping Stevie Barker is fit to return after injury because fellow bowler Jamie Shackleton is at a wedding.

Richard Sladdin, Joe Gale and Matthew Dawson were the stars of the show in last Sunday’s rain-hit contest.

Littleborough scored 149 before being bowled out in the 47th over. A prolonged rain break delayed the start of the Walsden reply until 6pm and the home side romped to a revised target, reaching 103 for two after 24.4 of their 29 overs.

While the weather turned out in Walsden’s favour, the visitors had elected to bat earlier in spite of a mixed weather forecast.

Littleborough looked set for a big score when their openers romped to 63 in the 10th over. However, they fell in quick succession to Gale and Sladdin and teenager Gale knocked over two more of the top order as Littleborough slid to 80 for four.

Ex-England player Chris Schofield went for a duck and professional Clinton Perren also fell to 17-year-old Gale, aided by a superb catch from Dewhirst leaping high to his left.

Former county spinner Sladdin mopped up most of the rest, finishing with six for 42 in 19.4 over stint.

Walsden lost Jake Hooson with the score on 13 to ex-Todmorden player Mo Bux but Dawsonmade 50 off 51 balls in spite of being under the weather with a virus which had confined him to bed until lunchtime.

Dawson stroked the ball to all parts, adding 49 with Kris Halstead (16) and then 41 with James Rawlinson (11 no) to see his side home.

Schofield trapped Halstead leg before but he and Phil Deakin were unable to match Sladdin’s earlier spin now the wicket was damp.

It was a less successful weekend for Walsden’s other two sides.

Stuart Hanson’s seconds, who had been rained off the previous week, managed only 82 in reply to hosts Royton’s 181 for eight.

The thirds made their debut in the Manchester Asociation at Unsworth and lost by eight wickets.

James Stevens (27) and skipper Gareth Connor (19) were the main contributors in a total of 139 for seven but 81 not out from a home opener sealed the visitors’ fate.