Read looking to to close the gap on early leaders

GOOD BOWLING: Jon Harvey in action for Read
GOOD BOWLING: Jon Harvey in action for Read
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READ skipper Kyle O’Connor is ready to pounce and capitalise on any error Ribblesdale League leaders Barnoldswick make.

After 11 games of the 2012 campaign Richard Nicholls’ men hold the advantage with a record only blemished by two abandoned fixtures. Baxenden sit second 18 points adrift while Kyle O’Connor’s side are a further four points shy, though still in hot pursuit of the summit.

“We’ve just got to keep on playing the way we have been, remain focussed and continue to battle,” said the Whalley Road captain. “Barnoldswick will have to slip up at some point because they won’t survive a full season undefeated.

“We’re just going to have to keep on winning and take our opportunity when it arises. There’s no denying that they’re a top side; they can bat all the way down to about number eight. It’s a very strong batting order and they’ve got strength in depth with a very good pro (Imran Khalid) to throw in. They are a good, strong outfit but it’s definitely not over.”

Sunday’s washout over the scheduled double-header weekend prevented Read, who were due to play Padiham at the Arbories, from making any ground on the table toppers.

Every top flight game was abandoned as the incessant rainfall caused major disruption throughout the league. And, with the top three all recording victories 24 hours earlier, it meant there was no change at the top.

The formidable Victory Park outfit overcame Whalley by eight wickets while Baxenden thrashed Earby by a staggering 201 runs. But Read weren’t to be outdone, defeating Cherry Tree in the day’s highest scoring game.

“It was a good game,” stated O’Connor. “It was a batters paradise really, a game that was good value for shots. We had targeted about 280 on that track prior to the match so we were happy to limit them to 237. There was certainly plenty of runs in the game. It wasn’t the nicest of games to be in the outfield.”

Match winner Joe Marshall was cruelly denied his maiden senior 100 after a confident and composed innings. Marshall required a six off the last ball to complete his century but could only ‘manage’ a boundary and was marooned on 99, agonisingly denying him a deserved three-figure finish.

“Joe was unbelievable,” beamed O’Connor. “He batted all the way through. He was just focussed on winning the game first but I bet he was gutted. That’s the second time he’s finished on 99.

“But he batted really well and patiently. He went in to the final over needing seven for his century while we needed 11. He hit a six off the first ball and he did his best to do it again on the final ball but it didn’t quite work out for him unfortunately.”

Read travel to the Marshfield Ground on Saturday where they face Settle in a bid to narrow the deficit.

Elsewhere in the league and Clitheroe were seven wicket winners against Settle, lifting them into fourth.

At the bottom end of the table, Oswaldtwistle Immanuel gained their first win of the campaign at the 11th time of asking.

Batting first they reached 163 with Oliver Jones top scoring on 48 and fellow opener Chris Cook-Martin making 45. Michael Erlank claimed 5-52 and Ian Britcliffe 4-36.

However, Wanderers also struggled when they replied. Only four batsmen reached double figures and Mick Clarkson’s 37 helped them limp to 139 all out before their fate was sealed.