NEEDING a strong end to the campaign to have any chance of promotion, the last thing Blackrod needed was to go into battle without a paid man.

But the Association Division’s fourth-placed side will not have their regular professional, Pramod Maduwantha, or stand-in Shashrika Pussegolla at least for this weekend’s match at home to Daisy Hill.

Optimistic captain Joey Pryle is looking forward to tomorrow’s clash, and he is hoping his sunny outlook will spread through his team.

“I’ve got to try to convince the lads we can still finish top,” he said. “We have to think like that, some of the lads are a bit glass-half-empty but we’ve beaten the top two in the last two games so we should be confident, though we won’t take anything for granted, not against Daisy Hill.

“They’re a team we’ve had some very tight fixtures against, they play aggressive cricket and they may be down near the bottom but they can outplay you if you’re not careful.

“It’s a competitive division, so no one can take anything for granted.”

Blackrod may have missed Maduwantha, currently touring with Sri Lanka’s Emerging Development Squad, but fellow Sri Lankan Pussegolla has proved a more-than-able deputy, not least when they won by 234 runs at Tonge last month.

While the ever-dependable Tush De Zoysa hit 118, Pussegolla scored 101 before rattling through the Tonge line-up, finishing with 8-46.

Having used up the maximum six weeks the league allows for sub pros, Blackrod must do without a professional for now, and Pryle says they can still hit the heights if they put in their now-usual late-season surge.

“Shashrika came in and he was fantastic for us,” he added.

“But you’re only allowed a deputy for six weeks, which we had. Pramod has been missing for the best part of two months, which has been a big headache, for us and for him, to be honest.

“Hopefully he’ll get a chance and take it because he’s an ambitious young lad and we wish him well, we’d never try to hold him back.

“So we’re without a pro for the Daisy Hill game, but we’ll be ready for them, I’ve told the players that we have to play as a team, we’ve done that recently and it needs to continue like that.

“We tend to peak towards the end of the season and go on a bit of a run anyway, and even though we’re still without a professional we don’t see any reason why we can’t win all of our remaining games.

“My philosophy has always been to make sure our young players are given a chance, now it’s time for them to step and and make the most of it and start fulfilling their potential.”



Bolton League

(1.30pm start)

Premiership Division: Adlington v Horwich RMI, Bradshaw v Farnworth SC, Farnworth v Lostock, Little Lever v Kearsley, Westhoughton v Walkden.

Association Division: Astley Bridge v Little Hulton, Atherton v Eagley, Blackrod v Daisy Hill, Darcy Lever v Golborne, Tonge v Heaton.


(1pm start)

Premier Division: Woodhouses v Egerton.

Division 1B: Dukinfield v Astley and Tyldesley, Greenmount v Edgworth.