MICHAEL Farley says Radcliffe will be in a stronger position to bounce back up should the club be relegated this season.

The drop is looking a distinct probability with the Racecourse men adrift at the bottom of Greater Manchester League Division Two B following last year’s promotion, but Farley sees plenty of reasons for optimism both on and off the field.

With only one league win this season, the odds are stacked against Radcliffe getting the minimum four victories they need from the last seven games and the teams above them losing all or most of theirs.

Captain Farley says the team will fight until the end and can see signs of improvement in his team as the season progresses.

They lost by 12 runs at home to fourth-placed Hollinwood last Saturday, scoring 177-9 in chase, and Farley said: "They got away from us in the first innings.

"A lad came in at the end and hit a load of runs and they got 20 to 30 more than they should have. That cost us.

“We almost got there but we lost a wicket just before a rain break and that made it more difficult.

“We put in a really good effort, and that’s the way it's been of late.

“Earlier in the season we were getting beaten and we had to hold our hands up and admit the other teams won the games well.

“But in the last few weeks we’ve been running teams close and been much more competitive.

“But it’s not all about winning games for us at the moment.

“We’ve got a very young team and it’s about them getting good experience and learning what it’s like and how to play at this level.

“We have four or five lads who have played every game this year and it’s their first year in the first team.

“It’s only going to improve them.

“We knew when we went up last year it was going to be difficult this season.

“But there’s a lot to be proud about and positive about at the club.

“I keep saying it but we’re a very young team – our number three is 22 years old, our number four is 19, number five is 18, number six is 21 and number seven is only 16.

“They’re all Radcliffe lads who’ve all come up through the system at the club and it’s like playing with a family you’ve grown up with.

“We have our fall-outs like any family but there’s a great bond in the team, and the fact they’re all Radcliffe lads is good for the club.”

Farley takes his team to leaders Uppermill on Saturday where he is under no illusions about the size of the challenge they can expect.

“They are the best team in the division by a mile – and a nice set of lads too,” said the skipper.

“Every one of our players are Radcliffe lads. They have all come through the system and all the work of the last few years is starting to bear fruit.

"We don't have a pro or any paid amateurs and we knew before the season were were never going to go up.

"But if these young lads get experience of playing a full season against good pros and amateurs then if we do go down they get another season's experience at that level and if we can get promoted again they will have the experience of playing in this division before, and that will stand them in good stead.

"It's two steps forward and one step back for us at the moment but our aim will always be to develop the club, develop the ground and facilities and develop our players for the future good of Radcliffe Cricket Club."