CHAMPIONS Walkden have taken advantage of the ‘London Bus’ syndrome – you wait ages for a Horwich defeat and two come along at once – to return to the top of the Premiership after winning a low-scoring thriller at Kearsley on Saturday.

Horwich’s second defeat in four days, losing at home to Lostock, enabled Jonathan Fowler’s side to leapfrog them by one point in a compelling title race.

It was a huge boost to a club who started the weekend by forfeiting their final T20 fixture against Golborne on Friday following personnel problems, bringing about a Bolton League fine of £50.

Saturday’s win, by 12 runs, owed a lot to Liam Jackson’s four wickets, three for overseas spinner Muhammad Rameez and two for professional Akbar ur Rehman as they defended a 147 target.

Given Horwich’s form in all competitions through the first half of the summer prior to Wednesday’s Hamer Cup defeat at Bradshaw, their first of 2019, it almost seems as if Walkden have been flying under the radar – something which sits fine with the skipper.

“I have always kept my cards close to my chest,” admitted South African Fowler, whose side were bowled out for 146 by Kearsley. “Horwich have been great. They have a good young side and a proven pro in Brett (Pelser).

“They deserve all the focus and will be a force for years to come if they keep all their young players. But we will just continue to go about our business and take each weekend as they come.

“We’re a good side. We have added a quality spinner in Muhammad Rameez, which is one thing in my opinion we lacked in previous years. So now it’s down to the team to put in the performances the club deserves.”

Pro Rehman top-scored with 41 from number three for Walkden, who chose to bat at Springfield Road, but 17 and 12 from tail-enders Tiarman Hamill and Tahir Maqsood helped recover from 116-8.

In reply, Kearsley were 69-3, only to lose wickets too regularly before Rehman trapped last man Greg Jennings lbw to seal a fifth win in eight as nerves were heightened.

Overseas left-arm spinner Rameez, an off-season arrival from the Bradford League, has now taken 17 Premiership wickets.

Only Lostock’s Dave Flanagan has taken more.

“Rambo has been excellent,” said Fowler. “As I mentioned before, we were lacking a quality out-and-out spinner. He’s fitted in nicely.

“But to win trophies, especially the league, it comes down to the team and squad. Every week someone generally puts their hand up.”

Meanwhile, prior to Friday’s T20 forfeit, Walkden had already lost four of five games, added to a rained-off tie, and only had “six or seven players” across the whole club at their disposal, according to team manager Abid Riaz.

They were planning to make up the rest of their team with youngsters, but a particularly heavy week of junior cricket meant that was not possible.

“Twenty20 has always been tough to get the first team out as weekdays are hard with work commitments, and those with families playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday is a tough ask,” added Fowler.