Captain Clark hopeful bad week was just a blip

Sam Bell bowling

Sam Bell bowling

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Fleetwood are determined to get back to winning ways after suffering one of their worst weekends of the season so far.

Last season’s Northern Premier League champions suffered a shock 92-run beating at Darwen, then 24 hours later crashed out of Readers Cup at the hands of rivals Blackpool.

Skipper Mat Clark admitted he’s had better weeks but believes the bad results were simply a blip.

“Before that we’d had a run of nine or 10 wins so maybe we were just due to lose a couple,” said Clark.

“We had two or three players unavailable but that’s not really an excuse - the truth is for whatever reason we just didn’t perform and we were beaten by two sides that played better than us on the day.

“The batting wasn’t good enough but having said that the other areas weren’t that great either. But we just have to get back on it this weekend and make sure we put things right.”

Describing the next match as vital is putting it mildly.

Fleetwood, fourth in the table with eight games to go, take on third-placed Lancaster, while the top two teams - Leyland and Barrow - face each other.

“So it is a huge weekend, it could be absolutely vital in terms of how things turn out this season,” added Clark.

“We might be fourth but we have a game in hand so if we can get a win tomorrow we would be very close to top spot.

“We can definitely still win this title for a second season running. We’re still right in there and I remember at this stage last season it was very similar - we weren’t top but we were right on the tails of the leaders.”

Clark added: “We just need to go on a run of form like we were on prior to last weekend’s defeats and if we win seven our of our last eight games then we know we are very likely to win the title, so that’s what we are aiming to do.

“We’ve got the best amateur batsman, the best professional, the best wicketkeeper, but we have to make sure everyone else contributes too.

“On our day, when we get it together, we know we are very hard to beat. When we’re playing well we do tend to win and not just scrape home but really win well.

“We have to remember that tomorrow and in the coming weeks and make sure we do all we can to try and win this league again.”

Over at Lytham they are hoping for a double boost this weekend - success in the league and a place in a Cup final.

The latter would be particularly satisfying for skipper Guy Roberts, who is eager to lead the club to a final for the first time since he joined.

“And I’ve been here 10 years so it would be lovely to do it,” said Roberts, ahead of Lytham’s clash with Ormskirk in the semi final of the Ray Digman and Chester Cup on Sunday.

“So it’s a big game fro me personally but also for the rest of the team because everyone wants to play in Cup finals.”

Lytham know all about Ormskirk after having played against them a couple of weeks ago.

Roberts and co did well too, smashing 264 for 4 with Ormskirk posting 248 for 9.

“They are a good team so it is going to be tough but we’re looking forward to it,” said Roberts.

That impressive performance against Ormskirk, followed by last week’s 10-wicket hammering of lowly Hightown has filled Lytham with confidence.

“We’d had a few bad results before that,” explained Roberts. “We’d been playing well but from a batting point of view it has definitely been good to get runs on the board in the last fortnight and get a couple of good results.”

Lytham lie in sixth position in the Liverpool Competition Premier League and play New Brighton tomorrow.

They are looking for a strong end to the campaign after winning the division last season.

“The problem this season has been that we haven’t been as consistent,” said Roberts.

“Last year we lost the first game and then we went through until the very final game of the season before we lost again. We were really good week in, week out.

“This season we’ve tended to play really well one week and then rubbish the next, and that pattern has repeated itself throughout.

“But we’ve only just passed the halfway stage in the season and apart from the top club - Northern, who are miles ahead of everyone else - it is pretty close from us in sixth to the second placed team. There’s only one win that separates us all.

“So I what we’re aiming for is to get into that second spot and then you just never know. Northern would really have to mess it up to let anyone else in for the title but if we put ourselves in second position then if anything crazy does happen, we’ll be there to take advantage.”

St Annes, who had to settle for a draw at Kendal last week, are in NPL action twice, taking on Morecambe tomorrow and Lancashire Colts on Sunday, both games at home. Blackpool will hope to post a better score than the 85 they got at Lancaster last week when they entertain Netherfield tomorrow.

In the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield, Freckleton – fresh from a nail-biting two wicket home win over Fulwood and Broughton – are at second-placed Penwortham tomorrow. Thornton Cleveleys face league leaders Vernon Carus, Fylde – who are not yet safe from relegation - are at BAC/EE Preston, and Great Eccleston take on lowly Hoghton. Garstang are at home to Torrisholme.