MICHAEL Farley is refusing to rule out a Harry Houdini like escape act for his Radcliffe side after claiming their first league win of the season on Saturday.

Captain Farley claimed four wickets in a 33-run home win over fellow GMCL Division Two 2B strugglers Ashton.

It leaves Radcliffe, bottom of the table with eight points, 22 away from safety with eight matches remaining. Whalley Range are third bottom, with Ashton sandwiched in between.

“We’re definitely hopeful,” said Farley. “If you give up now, you may as well concede the second half of the season.

“Everyone is expecting to beat us, so why not cause some upsets?

“We’re quite lucky because at the start of the second half of the season, we had eight home games from the last 11.

“We only played three home games in the first half of the season, and we use our home ground to our advantage because it’s one of the biggest around.

“When we play against teams from smaller grounds, it can work in our favour at the Racecourse. If you hit a six at Radcliffe, it needs to be properly hit.”

Radcliffe, having won the toss, were bowled out for 155, underpinned by a fine 66 from 18-year-old homegrown wicketkeeper Jake Lockett, who hit six fours in 105 balls.

He shared 45 for the fifth wicket with Dan Farley, brother of Michael, to advance from 41-4. Dan’s 30 off 86 was their next best score.

With the ball, the skipper returned a miserly 4-18 from 15 overs of medium pace seamers as Ashton lost wickets regularly and were never in the hunt. They were bowled out for 122 with three overs remaining.

“It was a massive win,” said Farley.

“We’ve not been able to put our finger on what’s gone wrong. It’s not been as if we’ve consistently under-performed with the bat or consistently under-performed with the ball.

“There’s times when we’ve scored 180 or 190 and not defended it and times when we’ve had 120 on the board and had the other team eight down.

“It’s been really frustrating for all of us because we’ve sat down at the end of the game having given everything, coming off sweating and out of breath, and we’ve said ‘what have we done wrong there’. For some reason, on Saturday, everything went really well.

“The deck wasn't the best. We were 40-4 at one point, and everyone’s thinking ‘Here we go’. Then Jake Lockett came in and got his first first-team fifty and steered the innings. Everyone batted around him.

“For such a young lad to take on that responsibility when we’ve not won a game all season was superb.

“It would have been easy to crumble under the pressure, but he grabbed it.

“We tried to do things a bit differently on Saturday, which meant increasing the tempo around the field. It was nibbling around off the seam, which always helps.

“We didn't let them get away. We hardly bowled a bad ball. It was the best we’ve bowled all season by a mile.”