A last-gasp nailbiter at the park

Ryan Smith bowling for Fleetwood
Ryan Smith bowling for Fleetwood
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Fleetwood cc won a thrilling Northern Premier League derby at Stanley Park which went down to the final ball.

This two-wicket defeat completed a miserable bank holiday weekend for Blackpool, who lost at Carnforth on Saturday, and Paul Danson’s side have some ground to make up if they are to justify their billing as dark horses for the title.

Fleetwood’s ninth-wicket pair of skipper Matt Clark and Joe Bell scrambled the two runs needed for victory off the final ball.

South African pro Con de Lange, batting No.3, gave Blackpool a solid foundation with seven boundaries in his 39 before becoming one of three victims (for 26 off 11 overs) of teenager Kieran McGann’s spin bowling.

Richard Gleeson, fit again after a back injury, made an unbeaten 31 but Blackpool couldn’t cut loose and closed on 161-5. Opener Alex Smith retired hurt after being struck on the knuckle.

Fleetwood reached their target off precisely 50 overs thanks largely to Adam Parker’s 70 which featured ten fours.

Steven Mercer did his utmost to keep Blackpool in the hunt, taking 5-58 off 20 overs and holding two catches, one off his own bowling, and Gleeson’s took 2-36 from 13 overs.

But even this wasn’t enough, though Clark had to survive a run-out appeal by Gleeson as he secured the match-winning second run off the final ball.

St Annes retained their four-point lead at the top by avoiding Blackpool’s mistakes at Carnforth, where they cruised to a six-wicket win with almost ten overs to spare.

The home side were dismissed for 135 with three balls of their innings remaining as Dinuk Hettiarachchi claimed his second five-wicket haul of the weekend.

The Sri Lankan professional carried on where he had left off against Lancaster, claiming 5-58 off 24.3 overs as opener Tom Nelson alone showed much resistance only to be out one shy of a half-century.

Spinner Dinuk was well supported by bowlers Ben Willis, Matthew Grindley and Jake Sunderland as Carnforth only briefly threatened to get on top with a third-wicket partnership of 62 between Nelson and Darren Moore (27)

There was never any doubt about St Annes reaching their target after an opening stand of 72 between Atiq Uz-Zaman and Nanthesh Kiruparan (31).

Atiq batted throughout for an unbeaten 77 off 104 balls, which included 11 fours.

Adam Cowperthwaite was the pick of the Carnforth attack with 2-46 from 17 overs, one of his wickets a superb one-handed catch by Gareth Pedder at cover to dismiss Ben Dowling.

It’s as you were at the top as Netherfield and Leyland, second and third respectively, also won batting second.