Heywood are prepared for a massive test by Middleton in tomorrow (Monday’s) Burton Cup final at Crimble (1pm start).
Roger Smethurst’s team have beaten the Towncroft side home and away this season, but the second of these two emphasised how close the sides really are.
Heywood won at Towncroft by just seven runs just as Middleton looked to be set to chase down Heywood’s total of 209, before Sam Byrne and Lee Grogan reined them in.
The visitors will be stronger than that game too, as they have former 100-wicket a season man Lee Wolstenholme in their ranks, as well as spinner Danny Core, who had to miss the Wood Cup final through work and is therefore rightly allowed to play in this final.
Smethurst believes the fans will be in for an exciting game.
He said: “I think it’s fair to say that the first time we played Middleton they were under-strength and they did not perform as well as they can.
“At Middleton that was more of a reflection of how good they can be and it went right to the wire.
“Middleton are a good bowling side like us, with Ricky Valentine and Mark Bucklet, and they will be strengthened by the return Lee Wolstenholme and Danny Core. They have some good young players like us, too, and it will be a very tight game.”
Heywood have are still going for success in the league as well as in the cup, an achievement even rarer than winning the Burton Cup. The last time Heywood won the league was in 1967.
With the first team also challenging for the title, Smethurst believes the level of success the club is having this season is tremendous credit to all at Crimble.
He continued: “The fact we are doing so well this season, on all fronts but especially in the second team, is a massive achievement.
“Heywood CC always puts its first team first, no matter what happens. This has in the past been to the detriment of the second team but has produced success in the firsts.
“This suggests we are a stronger club than ever.
“We have developed an ability to win games that we used to lose, as was reflected in the Burton Cup games against Clifton and Royton.
“I would struggle to pick one bowler or batsmen who has really stood out this season in the cup, but that is what makes us a good side because everyone has done something important at some stage of the season.”
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