THE top three is the target now for ambitious Whalley captain Richard Palmer.
The Station Road side have hit a rich vein of form having beaten Oswaldtwistle Immanuel at New Lane in their latest encounter. And Whalley’s resurgent spell has seen the club move 31 points clear of Ribblesdale Wanderers in fifth spot and just 15 points behind title contenders Barnoldswick.
Now, with fourth spot effectively cemented, and having shattered their expectations already, Palmer is raising the bar even higher and targeting a top three finish. He said: “Two of the top three, Read and Barnoldswick, lost as well so results went our way. We are not expecting to win the league but we could definitely sneak up a place. It all depends on how many they lose and hope it’s enough for us to catch them.”
Palmer added: “I think third is a realistic aim. I’d imagine they would have to lose maybe two of their last six games but that’s what we are aiming for. Bonus points and the weather will be a huge factor now. We are confident that we’ve got fourth now, which is great and it gets us into the Lancashire Cup next year. Whatever happens now is a bonus because we’ve already exceeded our expectations.”
Professional Kamran Younas fired a half-century as he opened proceedings at the weekend while Richard Lamb (42) and Martin Davies (41) added significant contributions to the away side’s total of 175.
“It all went very well again,” said Palmer. “Our top three batsmen got the runs and our amateur bowlers did well. So despite the absences of Mark Fallon, Declan Fitzhenry and Lee Kearsley our players stood up and performed admirably.”
Then it was the turn of Simon Gorton to steal the show. The Whalley amateur endured an injury-stricken 2010 but has bounced back with a bang, scooping his best figures of the campaign at weekend with a staggering 7-48 off 13 overs. That was enough to see the hosts fall 81 runs short of their target.
“Simon Gorton missed a lot of last year through injury but has been available all year for us and he’s getting better and better all the time,” Palmer said. “It was an excellent spell of bowling. He had their pro (Chris Cook-Martin) out in his first over and then worked his way through the rest of them. We were confident of defending our 175 total.”
He added: “We will keep turning up and see what we can do. It’s going really well and we are very pleased. We are working hard as a club; our second team wicket-keeper Dave Crossley came in and has done his bit behind the stumps. We’ve no stars, everyone just does their bit.”