Payback time as derby foes visit

Joe Gale blasted a quickfire 54
Joe Gale blasted a quickfire 54

Walsden will bid to make it third time lucky this weekend against a Littleborough side who have proved their nemesis in a rain-hit start to the 2014 season.

The sides face each other at Scott Street on Sunday and Chris Dewhirst’s hosts will be desperate to gain some revenge on derby foes who have already beaten them in the Central Lancashire League and ended their Wood Cup hopes.

Champions Walsden have won their other three league matches and also made progress in the Lancashire Cup away to Preston side Vernon Carus last Sunday.

The Littleborough match comes at what should be the end of a busy three days for Walsden if the weather behaves.

Walsden are at home to Milnrow tomorrow in a Twenty/20 game re-arranged from last Friday and then go to Clifton on Saturday for the first of two league games in successive days.

Dewhirst will no doubt be adopting a one-game-at-a-time approach but the Littleborough match will be the focus of special attention with Walsden’s batsmen particularly in the spotlight.

Conditions have generally been better for bowlers than batsmen so far but Walsden were still dismayed by totals of 134 in the cup and 89 in the league against their near rivals.

“We have not batted well against them so far and we will be hoping to put that right,” said Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale.

Ex-England man Chris Schofield and overseas ace Clinton Perren remain the main threats on paper but Littleborough’s bowling attack has been strengthened and looks more balanced this season.

There were some welcome runs for a couple of Walsden teenagers at Vernon Carus.

Jake Hooson found some form with 79 not out at the top of the order and Joe Gale, promoted to three in case the heavens opened and run rate came into play, blasted a quickfire 54 to virtually settle matters.

Earlier, Sri Lankan Umesh Karunaratne had indicated that he will come into his own once he fully settled in with three for 21 as the hosts, who play in the Palace Shield, totalled 181 for eight without ever really looking convincing.

Dewhirst returned from suspension but chose to give seven of his teammates a bowl rather than himself.

Walsden are away to Lancashire League side Church in the next round of the Lancashire Cup. The tie should be played by June 15.

Although Matt Dawson is still sidelined by back trouble, Walsden have enough talent to mean that overseas amateur Riyaz Pathan must continue to wait for first team action.

The Canada under 19 international did play in the recent Twenty/20 friendly against Todmorden and looks the part in the nets. He will be hoping for plenty of game time this weekend to show what he is capable of.

Walsden are third in the table behind Norden and Littleborough while Saturday’s hosts Clifton share bottom spot with Werneth, who also only have one point.

Walsden beat Clifton by eight wickets at the start of the month when Clifton’s fast bowler and danger man Steve Cheetham was unable to turn his arm due to injury.