Adlington are enjoying the high life
ADLINGTON aim to confirm their arrival at the Bolton Association top table by finishing third for the second successive season.
After a few years of struggle at the wrong end of the table, the Huyton Road men were the surprise team of last season when they finished behind Spring View and Daisy Hill.
Indeed, had they beaten View on the last day of the season they would have won the league.
While they have never been in contention to lift their first title since 1998 this season, another impressive campaign is further evidence that the difficult years are behind them.
With four games remaining, they are currently six points clear of fourth-placed Walshaw and have the opportunity to strengthen their position at bottom club Golborne today and at home to second-bottom Blackrod tomorrow.
And having inflicted only a third defeat on leaders and title favourites Atherton last weekend, they will go into the run-in in confident mood.
And vice captain Jon Howells believes third-place would represent continued progress for his side.
“The target is to finish third,” he said. “The two teams at the top have consistently proved themselves to be the best two sides in the league.
“If we can be the best of the rest it will be a good season.”
While the previous few years were tough for the team, the work they put in place during that period have stood them in good stead.
They improved facilities at their ground, built a good team spirit on the pitch, ensured their finances would be manageable for the future and developed some good young talent who now form a key part of today’s team.
And now they are reaping the benefit of all that hard work.
“We went through a rebuilding process,” said Howell.
“Now most of the players are aged between 18 and 26 and we have some good young players, a couple of old heads. We’ve moved to a model of having a pro and a coach, and the captain (Chris Mulligan) has done an excellent job of pulling it all together.
“Ben King is one of our most experienced players. He is a character off the field and a good guy to have around. He’s also a decent bowler.
“Mark Halliwell has played for ages and he’s another who is good to have around. He’s had a good year with the bat and he is a dangerous bowler.
“You get two quality players playing week in week out and both Majid Majeed and Tom Foster have come to the party as the season’s gone on, and that’s been important for us.
“But also Jack Shovelton has been doing really well. Last week he took five wickets in the win against Atherton. He’s only 18 and he’s really come on.
“In the last two months he has started to look a really good prospect.
“He is starting to bowl quite quickly and finding his rhythm and he is only going to improve.
“Other than two guys we pay – and Tom’s from Chorley – all the guys are from Adlington or have come through the ranks at Adlington.
“We are looking to keep the core of the side the same for next year and add one or two players next year.”
Adlington have built their success this season on formidable home form, having beaten the two top teams, Atherton and Flixton, and losing only one game – to Edgworth whom they bowled out for 94 before replying with 77.
“After an inconsistent start we have kicked on,” said Howells.
“I don’t think we have lost a game since we lost to Flixton in the first game of the second half of the season.
“We found out last year what can happen when you get a bit of momentum – everyone wants to play every week – and that’s been the case this season.”