FLOODLIT fans were treated to a hat-trick from Ramsbottom professional Brad Hodge as they beat Transco Lancashire League title hopefuls Bacup in the Floodlit Valley Trophy semi-final last night.

The Worsley Cup winners clinched a place in the final tonight against Rawtenstall after a 40-run victory at Worswick Memorial Ground in the first-ever day-night floodlit event in the Lancashire League.

The other side involved in the four-team event Haslingden had defeated Rawtentall on Tuesday night but they have other commitments leaving the way open for hosts Rawtenstall to fight it out for the inaugural trophy tonight.

But the hero of last night was certainly Australian Hodge whose hat-trick in the 36th over - which was a triple wicket maiden - ended Bacup's hopes of more match practise before they go into a vital final weekend of the season where they will battle with East Lancs for the league title.

But despite the loss, the Lanehead boys enjoyed the experience.

"It has been a lot of fun," said bowler David Ormerod. " I think the groundsman has done a brilliant job. It is a good batting wicket shown by the scores.

"There were plenty of runs out there which is what people want to see. They want some big hits and some sixes.

"And all credit to Rawtenstall professional Matthew Mott for helping to put it on.

"It is the first time I have played under floodlits and it has - despite the loss - been a good experience."

Rawtenstall chairman Brian Payne, who also helped to organise the event, was pleased with another successful night where 100s of people once more turned out to support the event.

They managed to keep most people entertained with the cricket, the music played between every over and a DJ giving the event an 'American' feel.

"It was a lot of hard work to organise but when you see the kids coming here and enjoying it and the older people watching it, you know it was worthwhile.

"And all the players have come off saying how much they enjoyed playing under floodlights and what a different atmosphere it created. The response from everyone has been great."

Ramsbottom got off to the best of starts last night with openers Mark Dentith (54) and Nick Riley (59) putting on a 117 first wicket partnership. Between them they hit five sixes and nine fours to keep the crowd entertained.

Julian Marcroft chipped in with 35 lower down the order to take Ramsbottom's tally to 245 in their 40 over spell.

In the rules, the bowlers are only allowed to bowl eight overs each with Bacup skipper Neal Wilkinson finishing with the best figures of 3-55.

Bacup's reply got off to a solid start with Peter Thompson and Dominic Ayres putting on 65 for the first wicket.

Ayres fell for 41 and next to go was professional Shaun Young - he was one of Hodge's four victims - for 23.

Thompson finished on 61 and Terry Lord had a go with an unbeaten half century but the rest won't be happy with their contribution.

With ten overs to go, Bacup were still in it needing 75 - but then came the collapse.

Matt O'Connor fell for a duck and then Hodge removed Andrew Spencer (three), Tim Farragher and Wilkinson to become a hat-trick hero and when Michael Haslam dismissed the last two, that was it.

Now it's up to Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom to keep the entertainment going tonight - weather permitting.

But whatever happens there should be some action.

"If it is raining, we still aim to get some cricket, whether it's ten overs apiece or a bowl out," said the Rawtenstall chairman. "It will still be entertaining and there will be karaoke as well so we want everyone to come down and give it a try."

The final is set to start tonight at 4.30pm with the cost £3 and £1.50. RAMSBOTTOM 245-7

BACUP 205 all out


M Dentith lbw Young...54

N Riley ct J O'Connor b Young...59

Hodge ct Ayres b Wilkinson...12

M Price ct Thompson b Wilkinson...15

J Harrison ct Killelea b Wilkinson...20

S Woods c & b Crowe...28

J Marcroft ct Killelea b Crowe...35

T Read not out...1

R Hevingham not out...3


Total (7wkts)...245

Bowling: S Young 8-0-30-2; S Crowe 7-1-45-2; A Spencer 8-2-25-0; D Ormerod 6-0-58-0; N Wilkinson 8-0-55-3; T Lord 3-0-25-0


P Thompson b Haslam...61

D Ayres run out...41

Young b Hodge...23

M O'Connor b Price...0

P Killelea run out...0

T Lord not out...50

A Spencer b Hodge...3

T Farragher lbw Hodge...0

N Wilkinson b Hodge...0

D Ormerod b Haslam...0

J O'Connor b Haslam...0


Total (all out)...205

Bowling: M Haslam 6.5-1-27-3; C Eardley 6-0-35-0; T Read 3-0-25-0; N Riley 7-0-34-0; M Price 8-0-50-1; Hodge 6-1-21-4