Clitheroe will look to throw down gauntlet

Sam Halstead is Clitheroes leading wicket taker this season
Sam Halstead is Clitheroes leading wicket taker this season

Chatburn Road captain Paul Gaskell says that Clitheroe will be looking to lay down a marker this weekend to keep their hopes of landing the treble alive.

Clitheroe kickstart Phase Two of their Lancashire League campaign against leaders Darwen on Saturday at Chatburn Road, with just five points now separating the title challengers.

Lowerhouse will then visit the Ribble Valley on Sunday to replay the LCB Knockout Cup quarter-final clash that was abandoned last month.

With Gaskell’s men also set to feature in Twenty20 Finals Day, provisionally scheduled for August 12th, the skipper said: “It’s the biggest weekend of our season so far, so we want to show our true colours. We just want to keep the momentum going at this critical time.

“It’ll be a tough weekend but in some respects it’s a good thing because we perform better against the bigger teams.

“It’s a good time to play them in a way. It’s going to be a huge challenge as we’re up against top of the league but if we win then it’s all to play for.

“We’re down to eight games and there aren’t any easy fixtures remaining. Teams will take points off each other at this stage.

“Darwen will want to open that gap up but it’ll be a big psychological blow for them if we win.”

Gaskell added: “We’ve been here before in the Ribblesdale League, this may be a different challenge but it’s still that stage of the season where things are won.

“We want to get that first win under our belts in Phase Two which will put the pressure on them.

“They are top of the league but they’ll feel aggrieved that they’ve been the stand out team yet haven’t been able to shake their rivals off. There are still a few teams chasing them.

“It’s the last four of the LCB Cup so it’s all to play for. Lowerhouse will play hard, we know what they’ll offer, so we’ll have to be at it.

“If we win we’re just one game away from Old Trafford. That carrot at the end of it all is getting closer. It would set up a massive one-game shoot-out.

“We’ll look to lay a marker down this weekend and that could set us up for the rest of the season.”

Clitheroe go in to the games on the back of a five-wicket win over East Lancs. Minhaj Bhada helped the visitors to 182-9 when top-scoring with 82 after Sam Halstead (3-63), Marcus Sharp (2-28) and Josh Marquet (2-39) had reduced them to 61-6.

Tom Lord hit 46 from 40 balls to see Clitheroe to victory after rain had reduced their target to 165 from 42 overs.