South African Kelly Smuts proved a more than able deputy for the banned Christi Viljoen as Blackpool got the better of a draw with Northern Premier League leaders Morcambe on Saturday, when Fleetwood also closed the gap at the top of the first division with a thumping win over Chorley.
As professional Viljoen sat out the weekend’s matches while awaiting a disciplinary hearing over an altercation with an umpire during the Readers Cup win over Netherfield, Blackpool recruited the Rishton all-rounder Smuts as substitute pro to face his former club at Stanley Park on Saturday.
Smuts was quickly in action at number three after Blackpool chose to bat and was top scorer with 41 from 42 balls.
The sub pro, who played for Morecambe in 2013, hit eight fours and shared a second-wicket stand of 57 with opener Tom Jefferson.
Andy Furniss came in with the score at 98-4 and his unbeaten 35 from 60 balls helped Blackpool reach a total of 177 from 47.5 overs.
Edward Reed did most to keep the score down, taking 5-59 from his 15.5 overs, while Suiraj Randiv took 4-72 from 23.
Smuts then continued his fine work with the ball, taking 5-49 off 21 overs, and Blackpool were looking good for victory after reducing the visitors to 116-8.
However, Morecambe survived at 150-9 after number 10 Gert Maartens made 21 and number eight Tommy Clough survived 55 balls for an unbeaten 13.
Ryan Pearson had earlier top-scored with 32 as Steven Mercer claimed 3-27 from his 14 overs.
The result saw Morecambe’s lead cut to 15 points after the first round of matches in the double-header weekend, 19 ahead of Blackpool, who remained third after overtaking Chorley but being overtaken themselves by Darwen, who beat Penrith by seven runs.
Fleetwood also moved above Chorley courtesy of a convincing eight-wicket victory over them at Broadwater.
The visitors chose to bat and were thankful to wicketkeeping captain Andrew Holdsworth for reaching 185-9. Holdsworth came in at number eight and struck 53 from 54 balls, with five fours and three sixes.
Ian Holland had removed Chorley’s top three for figures of 3-45 from 16 overs, while James Amor claimed an impressive 3-21 from seven.
Fleetwood then reached their victory target with more than 15 overs remaining as opener Adam Parker came good with the bat.
Parker past 50 for the first time this season en route to a blistering 81 from 65 balls, with 66 runs scored in boundaries (12 fours, three sixes).
He outscored prolific professional Dave King in a three-figure opener stand which took Fleetwood well on the way to victory.
Australian King, who averages more than 64, scorred 76 from 95 balls, with nine fours and three sixes. Will Moulton took both wickets but was expensive.
St Annes couldn’t avenge the previous weekend’s Readers Cup defeat by Leyland but at least held on for a draw at Stanning Memorial Ground.
The visitors chose to field and soon regretted the decision as the Leyland top order piled on the runs on their way to a daunting 273-6.
Opener Tom Reece led the way with 75 from 109 balls, but was quickly followed by Richard Frenz (68 off 92) and Henry Thompson (56 off 39) as Leyland laid the most solid foundations for a big score.
Matthew Grindley dismissed all three of them on his way to figures of 4-68, then played a vital role with the bat as his unbeaten 30 enabled St Annes to cling on at 185-8.
Their hopes had been raised by a solid start from Adam Holt, whose 65 from 74 balls was the opener’s third half-century of the season for the second-bottom side.
In Sunday’s action Fleetwood claimed victory over Barrow by six wickets, Blackpool wining by the same margin against Netherfield.
Full cards for Sunday fixtures in The Gazette tomorrowo.