Colne may have missed out on making the Worsley Cup semi-finals, but the Lancashire League Division Two leaders have still got plenty to play for.
For captain Matthew Walker there’ll be no more distractions. All his energy can now be put in to achieving one goal. Promotion.
Colne’s 16 point cushion at the top of the table after 12 games makes them favourites for the title in the second tier.
They beat Rawtenstall by six wickets at The Worswick Memorial Ground to fully capitalise on Haslingden’s loss against Nelson at Seedhill.
John Lambert took 4-20 off 5.3 overs and professional James Price added 3-19 off seven overs as the hosts were bowled out for 119 in the 32nd over.
Imran Abid took 4-46 off 10 overs in the home side’s defence, but the opening partnership of Kenton Rhodes and Adam Proctor had already inflicted too much damage.
The pair put on 69 with Rhodes making a half century while Proctor batted through to finish unbeaten on 33.
“It was a good performance on Saturday,” said Walker. “We bowled well in restricting Rawtenstall to a fairly low score and we were always confident of knocking those runs off. The pro (James Price) bowled particularly well and then John Lambert cleaned up the tail.
“Kenton Rhodes and Adam Proctor then opened the batting with a strong partnership. They batted really well together and did exactly what was necessary. It was a very pleasing performance.”
It’s still all to play for with 10 games remaining in the campaign, but they’ve already opened up a two-game swing over third place Littleborough to ease some of the tension.
Ahead of Sunday’s game against Milnrow at The Horsfield, Walker said: “We’ve still got a long way to go, that was only the first game of the reverse fixtures. We’ve only just entered the second half of the season, but if we can repeat our performances from the first half then we’d be hopeful of maintaining top spot.
“Middleton are now back in to second place and Littleborough have closed the gap as well. The top four aren’t too far apart so things can change quickly.
“It’s nice to have that cushion, it’s more than 12 points so even if we do slip up we’d still be out in front. We just want to continue winning games and concentrating on them one at a time.”
Their tie against Rochdale, currently fifth in the top flight, was a good test for Colne, who were undone by an ‘extremely confident and competent’ batting display from the away side’s openers.
Rhodes finished agonisingly short of a ton as Colne made 176, but Declan Wilkinson (90 not out) partnered professional Edward Moore (81 not out) to the finish.
“It was disappointing,” said Walker. “We knew it was going to be a difficult test against a Division One side.
“We saw it as an opportunity to see how far we’d come. Kenton has been playing extremely well all season and he got us off to a fantastic start.
“It’s just a shame he couldn’t turn his knock in to three figures having got so close. We lost a bit of momentum when he was dismissed, but I still thought we had posted a competitive enough total.
“They batted extremely well and didn’t even give us any half chances, never mind chances. It was an extremely confident and competent batting display. The positive is that we can now focus fully on the league.”