GREAT Harwood ramped up the pressure at the top of the Houldsworth Solicitors Ribblesdale League as they moved into second spot on Saturday thanks to a big win over Whalley – but Clitheroe stayed in pole position after veteran Naeem Ashraf got them over the line at Earby.
Harwood, who began the day in second spot, brushed Whalley aside at The Cliffe and for a while it looked as though they would be ending the first half of the weekend double header as leaders as Clitheroe stumbled and wobbled towards almost certain defeat at Earby.
Chris Walton’s 55 and 56 from David Crotty helped Earby post 213-5 from their 45 overs at The Applegarth and with Clitheroe’s top order failing it looked for all the world that Richard Craddock’s men were about to inflict a first loss of thye season on the leaders and defending champions.
They were 139-8 and in a world of trouble and at 191-9 with Craddock claiming seven wickets the game seemed to be up.
But Ashraf was brilliant and won the game with three successive sixes to finish on 114 not out to keep Clitheroe clear.
Whalley have been in superb form – but even their recent run has been put in the shade by Great Harwood who made it 108 points out of the last 108 available.
Jack Edgar made 43 on debut, Charlie Fernando hit 43 and Russ Whalley made 38 as Harwood were 203 all out in the day’s big game but any hope of a Whalley reply were shattered by a fine bowling display as they found themselves 48-6 before slipping to 114 all out.
Cherry Tree enjoyed a remarkable day at Oswaldtwistle Immanuel as skipper Mark Hadfield and overseas amateur Ruan Sadler both made fine centuries.
Hadfield was chanceless as he made a glorious 122 before falling two overs from the end, while Sadler rode his luck to blast 116.
Immanuel’s fielding was not the best on the day and they put Sadler down on more than one occasion and the South African cashed in with 14 fours and seven sixes.
But he wouldn’t have got the chance to get in so early had it not been for Amar Ullah had not been forced to retire on single figures after losing a contact lens.
It was going to be a tall order for Immanuel and while Daniel Metcalf led the charge with 88 and Ollie Jones batted with poise to make 44 it was a bridge too far as they closed on 229-8 in reply to Cherry's mammoth 282-6.
Brooksbottom claimed just a second league win of they season as they beat Euxton by six wickets after bowling the visitors out for just 60 at The Brox, while Susantha Pradeep claimed six wickets as Salesbury hammered Settle at Ribchester Road.
David Mills made 50 as Baxenden eased past Brinscall at Back Lane, while Padiham beat barnoldswick by one run in a thriller at The Arbories.
Anthony Hall’s 57 and Darryl Losper’s 51 helped Padiham post 228 all out with Louis Delport claiming seven wickets for Barlick, who seemed to be on their way to a win with Abdul Saddique making 99.
But in the end they fell one short with five wickets down.
Brannon Varley claimed five wickets for Ribblesdale Wanderers – but their indifferent league form continued as they were beaten by Edenfield at Church Meadow.