WESTHOUGHTON opener Atiq Uz-Zaman says tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash with Bolton League leaders Farnworth Social Circle is must-win if his team are to retain their title hopes.
The Howfeners welcome Social Circle to St George’s Oval in the first of two games this weekend that could prove pivotal at the summit.
Westhoughton sit second, 10 points behind the table-toppers, and Uz-Zaman knows a repeat of last year’s home win against Social Circle will put them right in the mix to go one better than last season when they finished runners-up to champions Little Lever.
Uz-Zaman told The Bolton News: “It is huge - the game of the season.
“It is important we get maximum points in this one if we are to have a chance of winning the title.
“We beat them by something like eight or nine wickets last season at home and that is in our minds ahead of this one.
“We know their strengths but also their weaknesses and the pressure will be on them I think.
“They are missing some important players as well I heard.
“They play us and then face Greenmount on Sunday which will not be an easy game either.
“If we can beat them and then get a victory at Walkden on Sunday it would be great.
“It could be a big weekend for us if we are to go one better than last season and finish top.”
Westhoughton have lost just three league games this campaign and their good season has been aided by the batting form of Uz-Zaman and pro Qaiser Abbas who are leading the way at the top of the batting averages.
Abbas has amassed 860 runs while Uz-Zaman has 897 to his name as the pair race towards the magical 1,000 mark.
Uz-Zaman is naturally pleased with his form and that of Abbas but insists it is all about the team goal and not individual achievements.
He added: “My form has been better than last year and I have been happy with how I have been playing.
“Qaiser has also shown again what a good pro he is to have in your team and has played fantastically well.
“But individual records are overtaken by the main team goal which is to win the title.
“We have a decent wicket at our place and the pressure will be on Social Circle.
“If we can get 12 points this weekend and beat them, we have a chance of being top at the end of the season.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, third-placed Bradshaw visit Kearsley while there is also another big game when Greenmount host Farnworth in a fifth versus fourth clash.