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ARBORIES skipper John Bushell has hailed Padiham’s best all-round performance of the season.

Clitheroe were the weekend’s victims as Padiham’s batting display proved invaluable in a 25-run victory. Callum Clarke top-scored has he surged in to the 60 mark, Nesir Mehmood fired a well-taken half-century before youngster Max Howells showed a mature head, falling just before a deserved 50.

“It was a brilliant win and probably one of the best performances of the season,” said Bushell. “Our batting had let us down in recent weeks but on Saturday it was totally different. We made 245-4 without myself or Chris Holt really contributing. The amateurs were great. It was a good all round performance and we put all aspects of the game together.”

Former Padiham paid man Kashif Siddique, who enjoyed a prolific spell with the club, made his return as he lined up for the Ribble Valley opposition.

“We were expecting a difficult game and we were obviously aware of Kashif Siddique’s capabilities,” said Bushell. “We know him well from when he was with us so we knew he was a dangerous player who could win games on his own.”

But the professional proved to be no nemesis for his replacement Chris Holt who struck on four occasions throughout the afternoon.

“We had a game-plan when we were bowling and it paid dividends. We applied the pressure on Kashif because we know he’s susceptible to making mistakes or become involved in a run out and that proved to be the case as he was instrumental in Naeem Ashraf’s wicket. He did everything we expected and then Callum Clarke took a difficult catch to remove him. They were quite close behind but we were quite comfortable. It’s a good confidence booster.”

Padiham remain seventh in the Ribblesdale Cricket League though they are now just six points adrift of fifth place Ribblesdale Wanderers.

Bushell said: “Clitheroe were only a point behind us so we’ve managed to move away from them a little bit and now we’ve gained a bit of ground on fourth. It’s very tight again in the middle now so we are pleased.”

Meanwhile, Read have fallen off their perch after a short stint at the top of the table.

Barnoldswick’s shock defeat at home to Edenfield could have seen Warren Eastham’s side extend the gulf at the summit but they were out-played by a classy Baxenden outfit.

However, Eastham admits that the result has left him scarred: “Barnoldswick lost so in hindsight it was a kick in the teeth. It’s been a topsy-turvy league since day one and there’ll still be twists to come. It hurts surrendering that top spot because it’s taken us a lot of time to get up there. Baxenden have gone from third to top so it only takes one loss and it’s role reversal again. We had the chance to open a gap but we are not out of the fight.”

Five of the home side’s batting order made valid contributions - Callum Waddington (42), Babaar Naeem (39), Mark Rishton (36), David Cronshaw (26) and Ben Swindells (27) - as they culminated the innings on 220.

“We were out-played to be fair,” said Eastham. “We dropped a few catches and we were out-batted and out-bowled. Baxenden played well and deserved to win. The conditions were slightly against us and the pitch got stickier as we went in to bat but I’ve got no gripes about the result.

“I stuck them in to bat thinking there would be showers and I thought the ball would turn a bit but it skidded along early doors and made it easier to bat. Their openers performed well but I think every one of their lads contributed. We dropped Mark Rishton twice and he went on to make 36 which made a difference.”

Will Driver, recently signed as Rishton’s pro in the Lancashire League, fired 30, Kyle O’Connor made 45 while Andrew Rushton added a knock of 31 but it wasn’t enough for Read.

“We didn’t bowl badly,” Eastham added. “Jon Harvey was the main wicket-taker with four and I added two but they batted well. Kyle O’Connor batted extremely well for us in making 45 but we fell behind and gave ourselves too much to do. We were 47 runs shy in the end.”