Jun 292012

Leading from the front: Roger Smethurst

Heywood CC’s home-grown second team take the limelight on Sunday in front of what is expected to be a bumper home crowd at Crimble.

Skipper Roger Smethurst and his men entertain Walsden in the semi-final of the Burton Cup on Sunday (1.30, entry £2 adults, £1 concession).

They will be praying for a fine day for a change and the chance to play before a big crowd, with the first team supporting the game because they are out of the Wood Cup.

The second team have not reached the Burton Cup semi-final since 1996, when Andy Greenwood led them to cup final victory over Rochdale.

But a powerful Heywood side, featuring many young Heywood lads who have already tasted action at senior level, will be hoping to bridge the 16-year gap.

It’s a tough test for Heywood, even though they sit proudly atop the Central Lancashire League Division Two table after two five point wins over Werneth and Norden last weekend.

They face a Walsden side who are perennial Burton Cup winners and finalists and who boast experience and quality young players of a similar standard to Heywood.

But Smethurst is confident that his side’s new-found ability to dig deep and win the tight games will mean his side make it through to the final, scheduled for Sunday 12 August.

He said: “Walsden are a very strong side and they are always there or thereabouts in all the competitions.

“They have an experienced captain in Stuart Hanson and a lot of very good youngsters, but at the same time we are bang in form and have nothing to fear.

“On our day we can beat anyone, as we have shown this season. Our bowling is as good as anyone’s in the league, but we need to make sure we score more runs up front and post a big total.

“Everyone is available for selection and we will have a very strong side out for what will be a huge game for us and the club, in front of a big home crowd. It will be a great day for all of those involved.”

Meanwhile, the first and second teams have important games on Saturday.

The senior side go to Eccles to take on Monton and Weaste at Welbeck Road, a ground where they have struggled on occasions.

They are in need of a flip after a couple of slack performances, following up their exit from the Wood Cup with a tame defeat at Norden in the league on Sunday. Saturday’s game at home to Werneth was a rare washout as Crimble couldn’t cope with the heaving downpours

The seconds entertain Monton  and should be confident of maintaining their place at the top of their  division.


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