Captain Will Wrathall has revealed how his Read team always believed they could pull off the unexpected and defend a target of 94 in their standout Anthony Axford North West Cricket League win at Barnoldswick on Saturday.

Read kept alive their hopes of a top-12 finish in the Premiership with a 37-run success centred around Nizam Vaid’s brilliant new ball 5-11 from eight overs, which bowled the hosts out for only 56.

Wrathall opened the batting and posted a determined 30 in Read’s 93 all out, with it proving to be the highest score of a contest which saw only one other score higher than 20 and lasted a little more than 56 overs in total across two innings.

Barnoldswick’s sub professional Naz Hussain starred with 7-47 from 13 overs, including getting Wrathall, before Vaid’s efforts contributed to leave the hosts on the rack at 26-6. They failed to recover, paving the way for Read’s 10th win.

Wrathall’s men are now 15th with two games remaining, but only nine points Salesbury in 12th. There are 24 points still to play for.

“We thought we were a few runs shy, but we never thought we were out of the game,” said the skipper. “The wicket, it wasn’t horrendous by any stretch. But it was definitely doing a bit - seaming and swinging.

“We had two seamers and two spinners. With our bowling attack, we knew a couple of early wickets and we’d be right in it.

“Their pro bowled very well. He was very clever and knew exactly what he was doing. He had it going both ways.

“I reckon I faced about 50 balls. It was a really gritty and grinding knock.

“But I’m just happy we won. I don’t care who scores the runs. A win’s a win.

“Nizam was so good. To only go for 11 runs, and I think there are four extras in there as well, was unbelievable.”

Read have won their last two games either side of a rainy No Result, and they are part of a jam-packed race for a finish in the top half of the Premiership table ahead of next season’s two-divisional split. Only 15 points separate Kearsley in eighth from Read in 15th.

Settle, who are leaving the NWCL at the end of the season, are currently sat 14th. If they finish 12th, then 13th would secure a berth in next season’s top flight.

Read travel to Earby next weekend - out of contention like Barnoldswick - before hosting high-flying Lostock on the final day of the campaign (September 16).

“It’s out of our control,” added Wrathall. “We’re relying on other results, but we can only do what we can do - that’s to win two games and see where it takes us.

“Our overseas amateur was injured a couple of weeks ago, which didn’t help us. We haven’t had much luck this year. But we’re building nicely at the minute. Let’s see where we get to and go into next year with confidence.”