ANTHONY AXFORD BOLTON ASSOCIATION: League split fears for champions-elect Flixton

In-form Flixton star Steve Hammond

In-form Flixton star Steve Hammond

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , deputy head of sport

FLIXTON skipper Aiden Fetherston hopes his league leaders can maintain their run of form going into a crucial final five matches and clinch a first Bolton Asscoiation title.

The Lawrence Road side finished runners-up to champions Atherton last season but are in pole position as they look to go one better this year.

But with the new three-way split format meaning they will face their closest five challengers – some for a second time – Fetherston admits it will not be straightforward.

Flixton kick off the run-in at home to Elton who sneaked into the top six last weekend at the expense of Blackrod after an eight-wicket win against Little Hulton, but are yet to face the Leigh Lane outfit after their original meeting was rained off.

However, with in-form batsmen Luke Perry and Alton Beckford finding runs at the right time and Aussie Steve Hammond riding high in both the bowling and batting averages, Fetherston is confident of a seventh successive victory.

He told The Bolton News: “Luke and Alton have been in great form and that has been well-timed for us.

“Steve has been our player of the season in my opinion. If he does not have a good day with the ball, he bats well or vice versa but more often than not he has been good with both. He has been good for me in my first year as captain, helping me like many of the other players have.

“It will be interesting against Elton this weekend as we did not play them in July because of the rain.

“I just hope we can beat the weather because we have had too many games called off.

“I think we have only played three of the sides in the new top section this season.

“The last time we played Elton last season I think we tied on the last ball. We were in a great position and then we needed Steve (Hammond) to take a wicket at the end.

“Hopefully it won’t be as nail-biting this time.”

Fetherston knows his team are there to be shot at as they look to stay at the summit and knows champions Atherton, who they face next weekend, are waiting to pounce on any slips in a role reversal of last season.

He is intrigued by the new three-section split but says with a decision still to be made on whether the Association divides into two divisions next season, it should not be a permanent fixture.

“I think it will be interesting as a one-off,” he added. “But it’s not fair for me. The teams in the second section are now playing dead rubbers if they are not playing for a place in the top division next season.

“And for those in the top part, it means we are playing the better teams twice at a crucial time.

“You look at Bury, for example, and they will have played us twice away this year which is not fair on them.

“Because of the weather, Atherton have played one game more than us so are closer going into this split, although there is nothing saying we would have won our cancelled game.

“We just need to keep up our form and go for that title.”

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