Skipper Andy Kellett is determined to ensure St Annes bounce back to form this weekend - and qualify for the Lancashire Cup.
With six games of the season to go - starting with tomorrow’s trip to lowly Chorley - Kellett has targeted a top four finish in the Northern Premier, which will earn the Highbury Road club a coveted place in the Cup competition.
But to do that they will need to improve on last week, when a late batting collapse saw them slip from a comfortable 121-4 to a disastrous 129 all out against Morecambe.
Kellett’s men bowled well and almost pulled off a victory, taking eight wickets, but the visitors held on for a victory which all but ended St Annes title aspirations.
The following day against Lancashire Colts, they batted much better - posting 240. But with Colts 80-2 rain intervened, thwarting St Annes chances of victory.
Kellett admits the weekend didn’t go to plan. “It was disappointing and definitely not what we had hoped for,” the St Annes skipper said.
“We couldn’t do much about the Sunday game because of the weather. But the Saturday match against Morecambe was not good.
“To be 121 and only four down is a decent position, so to end up all out for 129 isn’t good enough, especially on our wicket, which is really decent. 129 is about 100 below par so it was a bit of a disaster.
“To be fair to us we fought really hard and bowled and fielded well and we weren’t far from getting a win in the end. If we’d have scored a few more we would have won it.
“It was a shame because it was a key game for us. It was fifth versus sixth and the top four were playing each other so it was a weekend when we had a chance to make up some ground and move up the table. We needed to win but unfortunately we didn’t take that opportunity.”
St Annes failure to rack up some points means the chances of reclaiming a title they won two years ago is highly unlikely.
“The top three have pulled away a little now so I think the title has gone now really,” added Kellett. “We are sixth in the table so our aim now has to be to make the top four and qualify for the Lancashire Cup. That’s what we have to go for.”
Fleetwood head to Netherfield desperate for a good result to keep their season going in the right direction.
The club’s chances of claiming the title for a second successive year took a major hit last week after a five-wicket defeat at the hands of Lancaster. It was the second bad result in a row after a surprise loss to Darwen in their previous run out.
Fleetwood now lie in fourth place, 31 points behind leaders Barrow, and skipper Mat Clark agrees his team must refocus but insists a couple of bad results don’t spell disaster.
“It certainly isn’t a time to panic,” he said. “We have turned this club around massively in the last few years and a couple of bad weekends isn’t going to change all that.
“We didn’t play great last week against Lancaster. We got ourselves out of a bit of hole by making 160, which was maybe about par, but then we didn’t bowl or field well, dropping a couple of chances early. To be fair Lancaster batted well and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say well done to the opposition - but we could have done better.
“From tomorrow onwards I think we just have to start focusing on the game in front of us, instead of looking at the bigger picture and thinking about the title.
“We need to actually get back to basics and start winning matches. We’ve got the ability, we just need to translate that into performances.
“Netherfield are below us in the league but they are a decent side so it won’t be easy.
“We are fourth, with a game in hand, which if we win would take us up to third.
“Winning the title isn’t out of the question but like I say we need to stop thinking about that and start actually winning games.”
Blackpool - who Netherfield claimed a winning draw over at Stanley Park last week - travel to Leyland.
Lytham head to Maghull in the Liverpool and District competition, aiming to follow up last weekend’s emphatic victory over New Brighton with another win.