Har­ley revs up as Rain af­fected by Orm­skirk

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Celebrations Gala Stars In The Swim - BY TOM EVANS tom.evans@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @TomE­van­sE­cho

NORTH­ERN skip­per James Cole says this year’s Premier Di­vi­sion ti­tle race could be one of the tough­est in re­cent years.

Not since 2009 has a side won 15 games with­out win­ning the league, and that was in a 14-team di­vi­sion.

Cole reck­ons this sea­son’s break­away top four – North­ern, Formby, Boo­tle and Orm­skirk – could chal­lenge that record.

The Crosby side went top af­ter a 43-run win over Wal­lasey on a dank and driz­zly Satur­day, af­ter which Cole said: “At the start of the sea­son, they were the four teams I thought would be up there, and it’s go­ing to be very com­pet­i­tive so we’ve got to play well.

“We just want to keep on win­ning games – nor­mally, you’d say 14 or 15 wins would win you the league, but I think this year it might be more.”

Wal­lasey open­ers Matthew Wil­cox and Matthew Keogh shared 38 overs and re­stricted North­ern to 138 on a dry­ing, pop­ping wicket – a tar­get which looked a dis­tant mi­rage when Liam Grey took two wick­ets in the first over. He and Jamie Barnes re­duced Wal­lasey to 13/5, with the top four all mak­ing ducks.

The mid­dle or­der ral­lied, but the dam­age was done and Grey fin­ished with 4/37 in a 43-run vic­tory.

Cole said: “We thought we could con­trol the game bat­ting first and grind­ing out a score, and let­ting the bowlers do the rest. It was quite nice to bat early, the ball was a bit slippy – but once the wicket started dry­ing out, it started do­ing a lit­tle bit more, so we were happy with our to­tal.

“De­fend­ing a score like that, you’ve got to bowl well and the bowlers did, so you can’t ask much more than that.”

Formby can count them­selves un­lucky to have failed to win in the league for the first time since open­ing day. Af­ter a rain de­lay at Cricket Path, the vis­i­tors from Col­wyn Bay de­layed their dec­la­ra­tion as Pa­trick Leach hit 90 and Ge­orge Jo­hansen 66, even­tu­ally set­ting the hosts 192 to win in just 28 overs.

Af­ter a bright start – Wil­liam Porter­field and skip­per James Se­ward put on 101 for the first wicket, with the Ir­ish in­ter­na­tional hit­ting 70 in 63 balls – Formby just failed to get over the line, clos­ing five wick­ets down and just one run short.

Boo­tle stay third thanks to a dom­i­nant win over Lytham. Chris Lip­trot took 5/46 – the first five wick­ets to fall, and his fourth five-wicket haul of the sea­son – as the hosts fell for 105, be­fore open­ers Will Hale and Vishal Tri­pathi knocked the runs off for no loss, Tri­pathi fin­ish­ing on 64.

Orm­skirk’s Tom Har­ley did the dam­age in their 47-run win over Rain­ford.

Half-cen­turies from Alex Rankin and Luke Platt set up a to­tal of 237/7, be­fore Har­ley mo­tored through the Rain­ford line-up with a dev­il­ishly good 6/66. Spare a thought for one of his vic­tims, opener Paul Far­rar, who was bowled for 99.

New Brighton are still win­less af­ter Rain­hill’s Ak­shay Darekar took 7/27 to skit­tle them for just 62, in re­sponse to the hosts’ 182/8, in which opener David Atkin­son hit 56.

Thomas Foster starred with an un­beaten 91 as Leigh chased 219 in just 37.2 overs to beat High­field by seven wick­ets. Foster and Ross Zelem put on 149 for the sec­ond wicket af­ter Dar­shan Misal’s 57 helped the vis­i­tors set what they thought was a tough to­tal.

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