Walsden and Norden, the two super forces in the Central Lancashire League this season, clash in the Burton Cup final this weekend.
The second teams meet at Norden on Sunday after fighting out a tie in the league at the same venue last Saturday.
Just how evenly matched the clubs’ playing strengths are was further emphasised at first team level five days ago when Norden won a top-of-the-table clash by just one run.
In two rain-reduced contests, Walsden’s batsmen looked set to knock off the winning runs in both games, only to falter at the end.
The seconds played 27 overs per side and Walsden looked in the driving seat when they limited their hosts to 120, Mark Halstead (five for 48) and Cameron Hanson (two for 69) bowling throughout.
Kris Halstead led Walsden’s response with 33 but the loss of skipper Stuart Hanson for 23 led to a flurry of wickets.
The visitors drew level but could not go past the home total and the sides had to settle for three points each.
That means Norden retain a two point advantage over Walsden.
The gap between the clubs’ first teams is now six points after an agonising defeat for reigning champions Walsden.
The damage was done in the first half where the visitors, much-strengthened this season, took advantage of some poor bowling and fielding to post 196 for five off 25 overs.
Aussie Dan Salpietro (83) and new recruit Simon Harman (84) put on 151 for the first wicket.
Walsden did their best to pull the game out of the fire with middle order men Umesh Karunaratne (40), Matt Dawson (39) and Nick Barker (25) raising home hopes.
Joe Gale (27) and Riaz Pathan (24 no) took Walsden close but with two required off two deliveries, Gale was unable to score off the penultimate ball and was then caught by Harvey Fitton at deep mid-wicket to leave the visitors jubilant.
Gale’s father Kenny said it was a hugely disappointing outcome but with 10 league games left and one further meeting with Norden to come, the title race was far from over.
Walsden are away to Rochdale on Saturday and then attention will turn to the seconds, who will have bowler Tyson Illingworth back for the Burton Cup final.
Gale senior said: “It would be good if we could get a bit of silverware back at the club and it should be a good game.”
Walsden have swept aside Littleborough by seven wickets, Royton by six wickets and Middleton by seven wickets to reach the final.
Norden have accounted for Radcliffe by three wickets, Oldham by 76 runs and Crompton by 74 runs.
Norden won the toss to decide who hosted the final.
Walsden: J Rawlinson, N Barker, S Barker, J Shackleton, M Dawson, J Hooson, Josh Gale, Joe Gale, Danny brown, Riaz Pathan, U Karunaratne.
Walsden II: S Hanson, P Marrow, J Lord, D Bailey, C Hanson, K Halstead, T Illingworth, M Halstead, D Howley, Joe Hanson, C Dewhirst. Sunday: A Butcher for K Halstead.