BACUP held off the last-day challenge of East Lancashire to win the Transco Lancashire League title last summer and the two are set to slug it out in another nail-biting final weekend after the defending champions held their nerve to keep their noses in front yesterday.

Bacup underlined their determination to hold onto their crown with a gutsy win at Colne when they could so easily have cracked to hand the initiative to their Blackburn rivals.

Knowing full well that East Lancs had romped to an easy maximum-points win over lowly Accrington, the league leaders needed to make 169 to beat a fiercely competitive Colne side who were determined not to hand them anything on a plate.

Batting was never easy on a pitch which offered plenty of encouragement to the hosts' seam and spin attack and when Bacup lost professional Shaun Young in controversial fashion with just 37 on the board victory seemed a long way off.

However, opener Dominic Ayres dug in and after Matt O'Connor had fallen cheaply, Peter Killelea helped him add a crucial 61 for the fourth wicket.

Ayres fell one short of a half-century for the second time this season but Killelea saw the job through with help from Tim Farragher and Terry Lord as Bacup got home by five wickets with four overs to spare to bank 10 priceless points.

East Lancs therefore trimmed their lead at the top to just two points, but Bacup showed that they can handle the pressure and with games to come against Lowerhouse and Enfield they remain in the driving seat.

"It was a big win because there was a lot of pressure on," said Killelea, who finished unbeaten on 47 made from 93 balls with six fours and a six.

"We knew before we went out to bat what East Lancs were doing but you have to try and put that out of your mind, because there's nothing you can do about that.

"We have got strength in our batting order down the side so we were confident. We've had to do it before when the pro has been dismissed early and the lower order has had to put their hands up and pull us through so we were still confident when Shaun was out. It wasn't if we could get them, but who would get them.

"The ball was moving around and Nick Moulding and Jeff Ellis got a lot of lateral movement. I played a missed a few times and everybody got a bit heated but that's how it goes and if you can't handle that you shouldn't be here."

Colne were certain they had Killelea caught behind off Gary Hunt when he had made 18 and the total was 96.

But while the home side felt aggrieved over that decision, they were fortunate to get the verdict on Young's dismissal.

The Tasmanian all-rounder, who was still in with an outside chance of completing the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, had moved watchfully to 18 when he squirted a full-length ball from Gary Laycock to Colin Varley at backward point.

Varley took the catch cleanly but although Young looked to have played the ball into the ground he was given out after consultation between the umpires.

Bacup could have buckled but they kept their heads admirably and despite plenty of playing and missing and rapped pads, notably against Ellis, they chipped away at the target.

Ayres, missed by Nigel Rimmer at deep square leg on 42, faced 103 balls for his 49 and hit seven boundaries before driving Hunt to Marcus North at short cover.

Teenager Farragher was unfazed, however, and took 11 off the 40th over bowled by Hunt and when he went at 142 in the 41st over Bacup were nearly there.

Fours runs later Killelea was dropped behind the wicket but his battling qualities merited a slice of luck and he didn't mind Being deprived of a well-earned half-century by Lord's late flourish as Bacup kept East Lancs at arm's length.

"I think we will just pinch it. It will go to the last game again but I think we'll just keep our heads above water," said Killelea.

Colne had also made heavy weather of batting at times and took 40 overs to reach 100.

However, a late flurry from North guaranteed that Bacup would have to work for their prize. The professional took 122 balls to make his fifty, passing 1,000 runs for the season in the process, but then added a further 24 runs in just 20 deliveries to finish unbeaten on 74 with seven boundaries, none better than the one he smashed through extra cover on the way to taking 14 off the final over from Lord.


COLNE 168-5

BACUP 172-5

Colne 1pt, Bacup 10 pts


J Ellis b Young 26

G Hunt c Chapman b Young 0

North not out 74

D Swarbrick b Young 23

G Laycock st Chapman b Lord 17

A Walters c Chapman b Lord 0

C Varley not out 13

Extras 15

Total (5 wickets) 168

Bowling: Young 25-7-71-3; D Ormerod 13-3-37-0; T Lord 12-1-51-2.


P Thompson b Moulding 2

D Ayres c North b Hunt 49

Young c Varley b Laycock 18

M O'Connor b Moulding 4

P Killelea not out 47

T Farragher c Rimmer b Moulding 16

T Lord not out 16

Extras 20

Total (5 wickets) 172

Bowling: N Moulding 13-3-27-3; G Laycock 7-0-35-1; J Ellis 10-1-45-0; North 10-1-31-0; G Hunt 6-1-24-1.