WALKDEN are closing in on back-to-back Bolton League titles after what had the feel of a decisive weekend in the Premiership.

While Jonathan Fowler’s side won a rain reduced home game against third-placed Horwich by four wickets, chasing a 144 target in a 33-over game, their closest rivals Farnworth slipped up against relegation battlers Little Lever.

It means that Walkden are now 10 points clear of Farnworth in second with only three games remaining and a maximum of seven points for a win.

They could win the title in the next round of fixtures on August 31 when they travel to Little Lever.

Team manager Abid Riaz said: “It’s in our hands now - a 10-point lead. But we’ve still got some tough games to play.

Kearsley can beat anyone on their day and Little Lever and Adlington are battling hard down at the bottom. But it’s ours to lose now.”

Liam Jackson starred with a memorable all-round display against Horwich, taking 3-24 from six overs of medium pace to restrict the visitors to 143-8 and then anchoring the chase with a busy 42 off 54 balls.

Walkden’s pursuit was certainly not straightforward. Reduced to 39-3 in the 13th over, Jackson shared a crucial 57 for the fourth wicket with opener Aman Arora (37) and fell with only three runs needed for victory in the 31st over.

“Liam’s experienced and has played league cricket for donkey’s years, but he was outstanding with ball and bat,” enthused Riaz.

“The wicket wasn’t that great, so he’s batted superbly.

“It was game on when he came in because our pro (Akbar Ur Rehman), who has been getting a lot of our runs, got out cheaply. Liam had to dig in.”

Walkden are still chasing the league and Hamer Cup double, with Sunday’s final at Horwich (12.30pm) a clash between themselves and Bradshaw.

“We’ve been looking forward to that game for a long time,” said Riaz. “It’s one of the trophies we wanted to win at the start of the season.

“We experienced it a few years ago (2016 champions), and it’s a really good day out. It’s a big day for everybody in Bolton cricket, and there’s a real buzz about it.

“We may be favourites, but it’s a final - a one off game. Cricket’s a funny game.

“What myself and Jonathan (Fowler) try and get across to the players is, ‘Take each game as it comes because if you don’t turn up in the Bolton League, you will get beat’.

“Bradshaw are a very good side, and every time we’ve played them they’ve given us a good game. I think it will be a really good final.”

Asked what he believes is Walkden’s biggest strength and the biggest danger which Bradshaw will provide, Riaz added: “Our main strength is our bowling attack.

“I’ve played a lot of league cricket and watched a lot, and you won’t find a better bowling attack than this Walkden one. We have three genuine seamers and one very good left-arm spinner.

"I’ve watched their professional (Ian Dev Singh Chauhan) over the last few weeks, and he’s starting to click.

"They’re a very good batting side in particular.”