Walsden head into an important weekend of league and cup action with their spirits raised thanks to fine performances from two of their teenagers last Saturday.
Jake Hooson and Joe Gale came up trumps for the Scott Street side in the vital closing stages of the Central Lancashire League contest at home to Rochdale. The champions were in danger of another defeat, following a double setback the previous weekend, when the visitors moved smoothly to 88 for one in pursuit of 141 for victory in a match reduced to 25 overs per side.
However, medium quick bowlers Gale (17) and Hooson (18) were brought into the attack for the last 10 overs and did superbly, taking five wickets and checking the run rate.
The pair were backed by excellent fielding with skipper Chris Dewhirst, Steve Barker and Nick Barker all taking good catches as Rochdale were limited to 132 for six.
Walsden went into the game without classy batsman Matthew Dawson due to a shoulder strain, meaning they had to press Shubam Harkal straight into first team action.
The 17-year-old Indian, who had only arrived on Friday morning and had been due to play in the seconds, displayed plenty of promise with 25 in the damp conditions but it was Hooson who showed the way.
Hooson, who is on Lancashire’s books, made 64 and was fourth out with the total on 105. Gale was the only other home player to reach double figures with 19 against a useful bowling attack.
Walsden thought their 140 for seven total might have been slightly below par and when Ian Helliwell (36), Aussie Shane Wornes (25) and South African pro Wes Landsdale (31) produced a solid top order effort, Rochdale were looking good.
However, Hooson and Gale tipped the scales the home side’s way to leave Walsden fourth after six games, just four points behind leaders Heywood.
Walsden expect to be at full strength for trips to Norden in the league on Saturday and Championship side Radcliffe in the Wood Cup on Sunday.
Dawson is expected to shake off his shoulder problem while Harkal should have acclimatised.
Walsden will be out to avenge a recent defeat by Norden, and dismissing pro Michael Price cheaply could be the key, while Radcliffe are something of an unknown quantity but the visitors will start favourites.
Ryan Howley continued his fine form with the bat for Walsden’s lower teams last weekend.
He followed up his 127 in the thirds with a match-winning 60 in the seconds at Rochdale on Saturday and then made 79 in the thirds’ abandoned game at home to Winton in the Manchester Association on Sunday.