CAPTAIN Anthony Harris is confident Woodbank are an improving force after Saturday’s third successive league win against rivals Prestwich dating back to last season.

Harris described a mixed start to the new summer, including a first-round exit in the Derek Kay Trophy.

But the four-wicket win at Prestwich, chasing 178, was their third in five GMCL Premier Division matches and puts them close to early leaders Denton St Lawrence.

Saturday’s game was long in the balance, chiefly at 117-6 after 38 overs of the chase.

But, following former Leicestershire second-team wicketkeeper batsman Charlie Lowen’s measured 55, all-rounders Lewis McIntosh and Chris Read (37 and 23) shared an unbroken 61 to seal victory in the 47th over.

Captain Harris said: “We won the first game at Egerton, then we were called off against Flixton.

"We then got beat at Greenfield and at Denton in the Derek Kay.

“We had a chat in the changing rooms, and it’s got better from there having beaten Monton last weekend as well.

“The Twenty20 has been good. We won at Greenmount a couple of Fridays ago, which was a big result. We’ve upped our standards since.”

After Prestwich elected to bat, they slipped to 90-5, only for skipper Sam Holden to hit 77.

McIntosh, Read and Stephen Holt all claimed three wickets.

“It was a tough wicket which got better. They started slowly, but Sam batted really well,” continued Harris.

“Once Sam got out (146-6 in the 40th over) we clawed it back.

"They really should have got 200. We were good in the field.”

Former Loughborough MCC Universities first-class player Lowen then laid the foundation for the chase from number three, although fell at 89-4 in the 32nd over.

“He’s recently relocated to Manchester and knows Harry Dearden,” explained Harris.

“He was the difference, especially when you have Andy Bradley bowling his spin for them.

"He was sweeping and reverse sweeping confidently.

“They brought the seamers back on a bit too late really, and it didn’t work."

A big loss for Woodbank this summer has been prolific spinner Nick Kennedy departing for Greenmount.

“We’re really putting our trust in youth with Harry Singh,” said Harris.

“He’s good in the field, bowls off-spin and opens the batting. We just bat around him. He’s only 14 and is a real prospect.”

Meanwhile, Harris has explained the story behind the Cricket against Homophobia initiative which Woodbank and Greenmount are pushing in T20 cricket, with both clubs wearing rainbow kits in their recent clash.

He added: “I spoke to Ian Senior, and he provides Altrincham FC with their kits, as he does with us and Greenmount.

“He’s played a lot of cricket and was goalkeeping coach at Altrincham, who were the first to wear the rainbow kits through the Football against Homophobia charity.

“I was best man at my gay friend’s wedding, and I thought it was a great idea. Cricket and sport should be for everyone.

“We haven’t set up a charity. We have just gone under that name really.

“I thought Woodbank and Greenmount would be ideal because we’d get loads on.

"But the fixtures came out and we were away. So we decided to keep the kits and run it through the whole of T20. We have loads of sponsors, and it’s gone really well.”