GOLBORNE’S preparations for next season started in grand style with a thumping 231-run win against Tonge, inspired by a fabulous 150 from professional Adnan Raees.

It hasn’t been the summer captain Tom Pantak and co were hoping for.

Prior to Saturday, they had only won once in nine games and were sat bottom of the Association table when they had been confident of a promotion challenge.

But spirits have been lifted thanks to posting 313 on the road at Castle Hill and then bowling the hosts out for just 82 in reply. They now sit second bottom, having leapfrogged Daisy Hill.

Raees hit four sixes and 19 fours in 123 balls, while Ben Smith chipped in with 46 and 4-27 from seven overs of seam with the new ball.

Both men earned praise from Pantak, who is now aiming to build on this success and ensure they are better placed in 2020.

“We’re delighted with the win,” he said. “The pro was superb, and it was a great all-round performance from Ben as well.

“There’s no reason why we can’t pick up five or six wins in the second half of the season.

“In fairness, the division’s much stronger this year. All the other clubs have strengthened. Yes, we should be winning, but that’s been a factor. We’re looking towards next season already.

“We’ve brought a lot of new players in, so it’s a case of everyone gelling. We’re still trying to find out the best roles for lads in the side.

“We’ve signed two lads from Leigh, Ben being one and Dan Hewitt the other.

“They’re lads who, having come to limited-overs cricket from timed cricket, it’s going to take them a bit of time to get used to things. Hopefully going into next season, we’ll be better for the experience.

“We recruited well after last year, signing some good players. But we’ve lost games where we scored 300, for example, against Darcy Lever and didn’t get over the line.

“We’ve lost games by three wickets and two wickets and let ourselves down with bat, ball and in the field when it matters most. It’s cost us throughout the season.

“Apart from Atherton away, we haven’t really been beaten convincingly. It’s just been one of those seasons.

“But this win will give us a lot of belief, and I’m still confident that we can pick up if we perform how we know we can – like this game.”

Pro Raees has been superb this year with the bat. He is the top run-scorer in the division with 470.

“The pro’s doing his job. But we’ve just not backed him up enough,” said Pantak. “That’s what we did so well last year. When the pro didn’t perform, we took it upon ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Golborne’s second team are enjoying an excellent season and are on course for promotion. They are second behind leaders Farnworth and also beat Tonge at home on Saturday.

Pantak added: “There has been a consistency of selection in the firsts – we’ve stuck with the same players – which is helping the seconds. They’re having a good season.

“Now it’s just getting a consistency of performance in the firsts.”