RAMSBOTTOM are still alive in the Lancashire League title race, but captain Tom Parton accepts it requires a miracle for them to be celebrating silverware.

Rammy head into Sunday’s final day third and 12 points behind leaders Walsden with Lowerhouse sandwiched exactly halfway between.

Parton and Co must win and get 12 points at Accrington and hope Lowerhouse lose at Church and Walsden lose at third-bottom Rawtenstall, the latter without gaining a point.

If both Ramsbottom and Walsden finish level on 228 points, there would be a title play-off.

Whatever happens, captain Parton will be left to reflect on a very positive season for his side.

Sunday’s thrilling two-wicket home win against Middleton, chasing 133, was their 18th league win of a season which started with Parton targeting a top-half finish ahead of next year’s two-division split.

Retiring South African professional Werner Coetsee returned 5-16 from 13 overs with his off-spinners as Middleton were bowled out for 132, before Rammy slipped to 59-7 in reply.

Opener JJ Fielding hit 22 before Martin Cropper scored 34 in the middle order. He shared 60 for the eighth-wicket with JJ’s dad, Jon, who added a crucial unbeaten 37.

“It’s going to need something extremely special,” admitted Parton.

“But you never know. We’ll try and win our game and hope for a couple of favours.

“It is very realistic for us to finish second, however, and that would be something we’d have been delighted with.”

Ramsbottom also made last weekend’s T20 finals day and reached the quarter-finals of the Worsley Cup, other positives for a developing side.

One major plus for Parton, who has enjoyed an impressive personal campaign with 651 runs at the top of the order, has been the form of 15-year-old JJ, who has scored 388 with four fifties.

“JJ has had an exceptional season,” said Parton.

“Just to be playing in the first team is an achievement. But he genuinely is one of the best openers at the club and deserves to be opening every week.

“He’s a great kid. He’s the son of Jon Fielding, who has had about 800 wickets in his career and is a veteran of the side. He loves every moment playing with his youngest.”

He went on: “When we started the season, everyone was under no illusions.

"It was a case of finishing in the top half to secure first-division cricket.

“But we’ve played really, really well.

“We had a good T20 run. We came out on the wrong end of a last-ball defeat in the semi-final last Monday.

"We also fell to a last-ball defeat in the Worsley Cup.

“It’s perhaps a story of what could have been.

“But we have a young squad, and hopefully we’ll learn from it.

“This season has certainly given myself and the whole squad added confidence we can actually play and compete.

“It will be tougher next year with us playing all the top sides twice. But we’ve beaten the top teams this year anyhow.”

Ramsbottom have signed South African all-rounder George Linde as professional for 2019 and are hoping to recruit a seam bowler to add further competition.