MATT Hope insists that Lowerhouse can put the Corrie Jordaan saga behind them to concentrate on their challenge for the Lancashire League.

The Liverpool Road side lie third in the table, only nine points behind league leaders Haslingden, and play host to Chris Harris and Ramsbottom tomorrow.

But revelations over the past week that the majority of the team do not want professional Jordaan to return for them next season has raised serious questions about their ability to hold it together for the title run-in.

Hope, however, believes they can - and will.

"Our job is to maintain the pressure on the top two and to capitalise on any slip-ups they make," said Hope, one of three brothers in the Lowerhouse team, the others being Jez and Nick.

"All the events that have gone on off the field are irrelevant.

"This is as good a set-up as there has ever been at Lowerhouse and our priority is to take full advantage of that.

"There has been a misunderstanding and obviously one or two things have leaked out.

"It might have been better had this not been the case.

"But it won't deflect us from our main task which is to mount as strong a challenge as possible for the league."

Lowerhouse remains the only club in the Lancashire League not to have won either of the main competitions.

In recent seasons, the pattern has been for them to make a promising start followed rapidly by a steep decline. This season they have managed to sustain their challenge aided by South African Jordaan's sensational spin bowling.

Hope believes that valuable lessons learned in the past few years is now also paying dividend.

"Our amateurs have definitely learned," he declared.

"Nicky, Stan (Heaton), Jez and Simon Payne - who broke his leg last year - are all playing really well.

"Simon had a great knock with Stan at Nelson the weekend before last of 97 at a crucial stage.

"Whereas last year we would have been all out for 80, we made 172 and picked up five points.

"We've surprised people this year with our staying power.

"Winning it would mean a lot to the people down here," added Hope.

"We've never done it before and we've only come second once (in 1982).

"But we're in with a shout and we've got East Lancs the last game of the season.

"It would be nice if that game meant something."

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