While the top end of the table looks set to produce a tight and exhilarating joust in the Lancashire League, it could also become an interesting tug-of-war halfway down.
There’s not much to separate the sides in the top seven of the structure and the same can be said for the teams in mid-table, scurrying to finish in the top half where entry in to next year’s top tier will be their reward.
At present, Colne are hanging in there by the skin of their teeth.
They’re positioned 12th in the hierarchy, right on the division’s equator, despite suffering a third defeat in five games.
It was Middleton who applied the latest blemish, winning their first Lancashire League outing at Towncroft by 30 runs.
Dale Highton proved to be the match winner for the hosts, taking 6-35 to bowl Colne out for 109 with only 139 runs to chase.
The visiting bowlers had done their bit in restricting the Greater Manchester outfit to a mediocre score as Chris Walton and James Price took three wickets apiece while Johnathan Nation chipped in with 2-12 from a nine-over spell.
Rhys Tierney top scored for the home side with 27, Mo Shahid made 24, opener Harry Gee 22, James Tierney 16 and Highton 15.
However, the visitors just couldn’t clock up any moment with the bat and it was Chris Williams that set the tone.
The paid man, who once represented Cumberland, took two early wickets to force Colne on the back foot at 3-19.
South African professional James Price posted 24 for the away side, including three boundaries, as he became Williams’ third and final victim with 52 runs on the scoreboard.
Danny Kegg (11), Tom Bradshaw (15) and skipper Matt Walker (17) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures as Highton’s devastating spell with the ball proved decisive. Colne entertain Norden at the Horsfield in the Worsley Cup tomorrow with a place in the quarter-finals of the competition at stake. They then host Church in the league on Sunday.