Tomorrow’s showdown between Blackpool and Leyland at Stanley Park has been looming large in the Northern Premier League calendar for months – and home captain Paul Danson believes the match was always destined to be a title-decider
captain Paul Danson believes the match was always destined to be a title-decider.
Blackpool take a four-point lead into the winner-takes-all contest, having taken 30 points last weekend by skittling out Lancaster and Barrow.
Leyland kept their side of the bargain with a 120-run thumping of Penrith to set up the ultimate grandstand finish to the title race.
And Danson believes it is a fitting finale, saying: “This match has seemed like destiny. At the start I thought Blackpool, Leyland and Fleetwood would be the top three.
“I think it’s good that Blackpool and Leyland are fighting it out because they are two homegrown teams that bring their young players through.
“Each week we’ve had six or more under-19s in the first team and the older lads have supported them well.
“You would expect young players to have dips in form, and they have gone down to the seconds when they have needed to but always come back strongly.”
Danson acknowledges those young players have been well mentored by Daryl Mitchell, who could be making his Blackpool farewell tomorrow.
Danson said: “Daryl’s a first-class player contracted to Cricket New Zealand, so it’s out of our hands whether he can come back next season, though we’d love him to.
“We didn’t have big totals to chase last weekend but the pro has been not out in both games. That’s his job and he’s done it well.
“To my mind he’s been the best pro in the league – great in the nets, a calming influence and a winner. The only thing he hasn’t done is score 150-plus and he’s good enough to do it.
“But we haven’t been relying on a few players – Thomas Jefferson had to go in early against Barrow and played a great, mature innings. That’s been the story of our season, with different people stepping up when we’ve needed them to.”
Leyland, who last won the title the season before Blackpool in 2013, will have the South African Brett Pelser as their guest professional and have a wily captain in David Makinson.
Danson added: “Leyland have a strong batting line-up and David has them well organised. I expect that whoever bats first on Saturday will post a total.”
The action begins at 12.30pm; third -placed Fleetwood end the campaign at home to Lancaster, while St Annes are at Preston.