WALKDEN beat Westhoughton for the second time in two days on Sunday to set up a mouth-watering tie with Greater Manchester League Premier Division leaders Clifton in the last 16 of the Lancashire Knockout.

So, at present, the best of the Bolton League will face the best of the GMCL on July 1, with Walkden president Frank Hinks saying: “We travel to Clifton, and it will be a crunch match.”

After Saturday’s 13-run home win in the league, the repeat clash was much more comfortable as Walkden won by 181 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern following early-evening rain.

Centuries for Alex Roberts and professional Akbar ur Rehman underpinned a commanding 280-3 from 45 overs, having elected to bat first.

Opener Roberts top-scored with 118 from 129 balls, including 14 fours, and he more than doubled his run tally for the season.

“Alex has a good pedigree, and I’d say this will give him the confidence to kick on,” said Hinks.

Rehman added 111 off 103 balls with 15 fours and the only six of the match.

They shared a game-changing second-wicket partnership of 200 to advance from 30-1.

In reply, Westhoughton had reached 99-5 in the 23rd over when the rain came, with Syed Shah and pro Rehman taking two wickets apiece.

Opener Matthew Morris hit 31 for Westhoughton.

Both sides were without their regular captains, Jonathan Fowler and Rob Houghton. Walkden’s Fowler missed both games this weekend due to a family wedding back in South Africa.

“It was very comfortable,” said Hinks. “We outplayed them in every area of the game. They were never really in it. I think they were 70 or 80 behind on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern when it rained.

“We’ve had two good wins this weekend, both against Westhoughton.

“But, as far as I’m concerned, the most important one was Saturday.

“The league is our priority, and the other competitions are just a bonus for us.

“We’re out of the Hamer Cup, and Astley Bridge deserved to beat us. Both our defeats have been at home this season.

“We lost the other to Bradshaw, who deserved to win that one as well.”

Things are looking good for Walkden this season, aside from the surprise Hamer Cup defeat to Astley Bridge.

They sit top of the Premiership Division by five points from defending champions Farnworth, having won six of their seven matches so far, and they have plenty of players in form, including New Zealand overseas amateur Nick Stobart – another who did not feature on Sunday.

While their second team only sit mid-table in the Association Division, they are a young and developing side.

George McManus, last season’s captain of the seconds, is an example of someone given a chance by Fowler and the first-team hierarchy. He was due to skipper the seconds again, but he has been elevated to the first team, with Andy Coop taking over.

“I am very happy with the way things are going,” added Hinks.

Clifton, meanwhile, beat GMCL rivals Woodbank on Sunday to advance.

They are captained by former Lancashire County Championship- winning wicketkeeper Gareth Cross.