Clitheroe close in on the title

Clitheroe are 25 points clear of Great Harwood
Clitheroe are 25 points clear of Great Harwood

Clitheroe portrayed their title-winning credentials when getting back to winning ways after suffering a first league loss of the campaign.

Baxenden inflicted that blemish at Back Lane last week, but Paul Gaskell’s men fostered the character to respond as they took 24 points from derbies against Read and Ribblesdale Wanderers.

That moved the champions 25 points clear of Great Harwood in their bid to retain their crown, though their rivals have a game in hand. Clitheroe beat Charlie Jackson’s by seven wickets on Sunday, just 24 hours after subjecting Read to a 77-run loss at Chatburn Road.

Jack Dewhurst at starred with the bat on home soil, hitting 60 in Clitheroe’s 161-8 total. Professional Janaka Guneratne continued that momentum with the ball as he crushed the opposition batsmen with 6-11.

“They were massive wins really,” said Gaskell. “In both games we were staring down the barrel so to come out with 24 points from two derbies is great. We showed superb character. The defeat last week gave us the motivation we needed and it re-focussed a few of the players. We bounced back with style and I couldn’t have asked for any more.”

Gaskell, who will lead his side out against second place Settle on Saturday, added: “The important thing for us is to keep going. Winning against Settle on Saturday would put the pressure on Great Harwood and we go there at the start of September. We won’t be far off if we win at the weekend.

“It’s been a funny season. We’ve only lost once but if Great Harwood win their game in hand then they’ll only be 13 points behind. It’s remarkable but the weather has played its part. We’ve had three or four abandonments which has cost us a bit.”

Clitheroe will then take to the road as they face Liverpool and District League leaders Ormskirk in the semi-final of the LCB Knockout Cup.

“We’re at the business end of the season now,” said Gaskell. “We’re looking forward to this tie against a very good side. It’s a great achievement to have reached this stage of the competition.

“We’ll go in to the game as massive underdogs but anything can happen. We’ll just have to give everything.”