MARK Friend declared reaching this weekend’s Lancashire Knockout Cup final as a “big achievement” for Darwen, but he is hoping to take it a step further.

The Towers have reached the last two of the competition on two previous occasions, finishing runners up both times.

Now, ahead of their showdown with Clifton at Ormskirk CC on Sunday, Friend is determined to make it third time lucky.

“We’ve got a good group of lads, the spirit’s high within the camp, we’re playing a lot of competitive cricket so I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t get over the line if we turn up on the day and perform like we can,” said the Darwen captain.

“There’s been talk already that it’s a big achievement for the club. Looking at it, maybe it could be third time lucky.

“We just need to believe in our all ability. We’ve got a young side but we’ve all scored important runs throughout our career. We’ve shown character in the league this year when 10 and 11 have put on a big partnership for the 10th wicket.

“We’ve shown consistency with bat and ball and we’ve got plenty of options bowling wise. We’re going to be having six or seven bowling options for the weekend, and you could probably draw the team selection out of a hat with the batting line-up.

“But the mentality we’re going to adopt is we’re going to make sure we take the game deep, back our own confidence and maintain the belief we are good enough to be where we are and that on our day we can take on anyone in the county, which we’re showing at the moment.”

Having missed out on silverware in last weekend’s T20 finals day, Friend admits there’s an extra incentive to do well this weekend.

“This is the last chance we’ve got of winning something this year,” he said.

“We’ve gone the distance in the majority of the competitions but this is the last chance to get some silverware which is an added bit of motivation that the guys need.

“There’s a buzz about the club, with the recent move to the Lancashire League and competing on all formats and doing well. It’s testament to the work the lads have shown throughout the tournament really where we’ve not really relied on one person, it’s been a great team effort to get where we are. Players are chipping in with bat and ball and we’re not really relying on one person to get us victory and a place in the final.

“It’s been a great team effort, there have been guys who have got runs, guys who have been taking wickets and bowling consistently well and there have been no real weak links.

“On our day anyone could score 100, and looking at our team from one to 11 I think everyone has scored a 50.”

Of previous wins in the competition, Friend added: “We showed great fight in the Bootle game, which was a low scoring game, and again in the Ormskirk game where we were looking a bit ropey at 40-4. Winning such a reduced game by 40 runs was testament to how well the guys pulled together as a full unit.

“When we gel together as a team we’re pretty unstoppable.”