Gaskell wants to end first phase in glory

Fawad Alam helped Clitheroe through to victory against Ramsbottom
Fawad Alam helped Clitheroe through to victory against Ramsbottom

Clitheroe captain Paul Gaskell is looking to round things off with a win as the curtains come down on phase one of the Lancashire League campaign.

With the league splitting in to two tiers next month, victory over East Lancashire at Chatburn Road on Saturday would see the Ribble Valley club usurp 2015 champions Burnley in second spot.

With 12 points currently separating themselves from leaders Darwen, skipper Gaskell said: “It’ll be a tough game against East Lancs because they’ve been up there for most of the year. We want to finish phase one of the campaign with a win.

“We’re only 12 points behind Darwen and we want to stay in touching distance. We’re in striking distance, we’ve given ourselves a chance and we want to capitalise.

“Everybody will be playing each other and beating each other. I imagine there’ll be movement because there won’t be any easy games. I think teams will turn each other over.

“We would like to think that we’ll be involved until the end. We’ve slipped up a couple of times but we’ve hopefully addressed those problems.

“The signs are all good. We need to keep a bit of momentum going and if we keep putting wins together then we’ll be up there.”

Clitheroe toppled reigning champions Ramsbottom at the weekend in a fixture that went right down to the wire.

Sam Halstead carries the fourth best figures in the Lancashire League at present and added another couple of victims to his list while Callum Kay top scored with 63 for the visitors in their 173-8 finish.

Steady batting by Ali Ross, who hit a league best 44, Jack Dewhurst (24), Charlie Dewhurst (17) and Peter Dibb (12) put Clitheroe in the hunt but tight bowling by the Ramsbottom attack threatened to turn the game the visitors way.

It took an unbeaten 45 from Alam, which included five fours and a six, to see Clitheroe home with seven balls to spare.

“It was a lot tighter than it should have been,” said Gaskell. “It went to the penultimate over but thankfully our pro has been there and done it and he got us home.

“They’ve won eight on the bounce and alongside Darwen they were probably the form team in the league. They’re a good side with a good blend.

“It was a special day as well with our former professional Jon Fielding coming back. That made it a potentially tricky chase against one of the best bowlers the Lancashire League has seen.

“It was a massive test, especially following the defeat to Rishton. It was pleasing to respond how we did. We’re delighted with the win.”