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Fylde coast cricket preview: St Annes chase the leaders as Blackpool seek to bounce back

St Annes wicketkeeper Richard Staines
St Annes wicketkeeper Richard Staines
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Captain Nathan Armstrong praised fast-developing wicketkeeper Richard Staines for his key role in a vital win which keeps St Annes CC breathing down the necks of the Northern Premier League leaders.

Staines fired a four off the final ball to move to 63 not out and seal a three-wicket home win over Fulwood and Broughton as the hosts chased down 220-8 in nailbiting style.

The win pulled the Vernon Road club level with neighbours Blackpool, just two points behind new leaders and defending champions Netherfield.

And Armstrong, who shared a half-century stand with man of the match Staines, said: “Richard is going really well for us this season.

“He’s still only 19 and has a couple of match-winning scores for us.

“But everyone chipped in and it’s always good to get over the line in a close games. It’s really good for the team’s confidence.

“We are very pleased to be where we are and the aim is to stay in contention as long as possible.

“We’d have liked to do better in the cups and we’ve struggled at T20 for a few years, but our focus is the league and if we can do well in the league cup too that will be a bonus.”

Another hero against Fulwood and Broughton was four-wicket professional Amar Ullah, who tops the NPL bowling rankings and has taken 35 league wickets so far.

“He is a good guy inthe changing room too,” added Armstrong. “It’s great when your pro makes a big contribution on the field and off.”

St Annes face Netherfield next weekend in a crunch clash but Armstrong won’t get ahead of himself, with an important match away to a Penrith side with dangerous players tomorrow.

And while some leagues are operating flexible starting times tomorrow to allow players to watch England’s World Cup quarter-final, the NPL is sticking with its 1.30pm starts.

Armstrong backs the decision, adding: “We’ve all made a commitment. We’re here to play cricket.”

Blackpool Cricket Club bid to bounce back from their first defeat of the Northern Premier League season when they visit Barrow tomorrow.

Netherfield’s six-wicket win at Stanley Park last Saturday enabled the reigning champions to overtake season-long leaders Blackpool and top the first division by two points.

Blackpool will be hoping to return to winning ways at Ernest Pass, Barrow having been dismissed for just 66 at Leyland last weekend.

Blackpool would also welcome a favour from Fleetwood, who visit Netherfield tomorrow.

Fifth-placed Fleetwood have ambitions of their own and will be determined to close the gap on the leaders.

Lytham’s three-match winning run was halted by a high-scoring home draw with Leigh, though Ben Saunders’ side remain in buoyant mood for their visit to Liverpool Competition leaders Ormskirk tomorrow. Their hosts are in rampant form, however, and piled on 258-3 against Rainhill last weekend.

It looks like World Cup fever has hit the Palace Shield, with some early kick-offs among tomorrow’s fixtures.

The Fylde v Kirkham and Wesham macth in division 1A will begin at noon, and Thornton Cleveleys head to Penwortham or an 11.30am start in the premier.

Match of the day in 1A is leaders Freckleton at home to third-placed Mawdesley.

Fixtures

Northern Premier League: Barrow v Blackpool, Fulwood and Broughton v Garstang, Morecambe v Leyland, Netherfield v Fleetwood, Penrith v St Annes, Preston v Chorley

Liverpool Competition ECB premier league: Ormskirk v Lytham

Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Kendal v Croston, Lancaster v Torrisholme, Eccleston v South Shore, Longridge v Great Eccleston, Penwortham v Thornton Cleveleys, Vernon Carus v New Longton

Division 1A: Fylde v Kirkham and Wesham, Freckleton v Mawdesley, Grimsargh v Withnell Fold, Hoghton v BAC/EE Preston, Norcross v Standish, Rufford v Tarleton.