The match of the day

St Annes Cricket Club 1xt X1 (batting) v Leyland.  Atiq Uz-Zaman

St Annes Cricket Club 1xt X1 (batting) v Leyland. Atiq Uz-Zaman

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ST ANNES CC are looking increasingly insecure at the top of the Northern Premier League, though the match of the day certainly lived up to its billing.

Defending champions Leyland climbed to within nine points of the leaders after winning a superb match at Vernon Road by three wickets, with one over remaining.

A second successive defeat for the home side had looked unlikely as Atiq Uz-Zaman gave them a superb start, scoring 97 off 113 balls and sharing in a first-wicket stand of 109 with teenager Nanthesh Kiruparan, who made 38.

Off-spinner David Fisher later proved highly effective in slowing the flow of runs, taking 5-32 off eight overs as the hosts were all out for 215, Leyland skipper David Makinson taking 3-53.

Leyland pro Brett Pelser then calmly steered his side home in a tense finish, making an unbeaten 63 off 80 balls.

Opener Luis Reece made a high-class 74 off 79 balls, an innings described by St Annes captain Andy Kellett as one of the best he had seen from an amateur batsman in the league for many years.

But St Annes pro Dinuka Hettiarachchi kept his side in the game with a typically prolific spell of 5-55 off 24 overs.

It was the Sri Lankan professional spinner’s eighth five-wicket haul of the season, taking his total of league victims this year to 62.

Leyland were wobbling at 126-5 until Andrew Makinson and James Rounding leant Pelser valuable support.

Visiting wicketkeeper Adam Coates damaged a finger in the field and would only have batted in an emergency.

The victors have taken second spot from Chorley, who now have two games in hand on the top two following a blank weekend.

The Blackpool revival continued with a three-wicket win at Kendal.

The Cumberland fast bowler Richard Gleeson continued his development as a top-class all-rounder at Shap Road with a match-winning knock of 72, having earlier taken three wickets.

Coming in at No.6 after Blackpool had stuttered to 32-4 in reply to Kendal’s 155-9, Gleeson and Alex Smith repaired the damage.

Smith made a patient 56 off 158 balls before he was stumped by Gary Baker off Stu Parkin.

Gleeson’s first ever half-century in the league included 11 fours and a six but he couldn’t quite complete the job, dismissed lbw with three deliveries left, having faced 78 balls.

Blackpool had started the final over needing just a single for victory and that was still the case come the penultimate ball, from which James Smith and Steven Mercer scrambled a bye. Parkin finished with 3-47.

Earlier, Gleeson caught and bowled Kendal’s Kiwi Test star Jamie How for a duck on his way to 3-47 off 15 overs.

Mercer weighed in with 3-37 off 19 as Terry Hunte again bolstered Kendal’s batting with 54 off 79 balls.

Skipper Chris Miller hit an unbeaten 24 and wicketkeeper Baker 37 as opener.

Blackpool are still languishing in ninth place but have now followed three straight defeats with back-to-back wins.

After salvaging a draw at Leyland the previous Saturday, Fleetwood returned to losing ways at home to Darwen.

However, a third win of the season looked to a distinct possibility for the Broadwater club as they reduced the visitors to 111-7 in reply to their 139-9.

However, Darwen’s Kamran Anwar and Sam Munns then held their nerve to seal a three-wicket win.

Skipper John Cordingley was their top scorer with 36 despite Sam Bell claiming the best figures of the match (3-31).

Wicketkeeper Dean Bell had earlier opened with 34 for the home side as Darwen pro Zimmy Khan took 3-51 off 19 overs.

There were two wickets apiece for Niall Burke and Chris Wade.

In Division Two, visitors St Annes held leaders Leyland to a draw.

St Annes restricted the champions to 163-7 (Rich Thomas 3-62 off 18 overs) before St Annes battled through to 110-7 (Mark Emsley 32).

Adrian Darlington hit 83 and Nick Wall 66 in Blackpool’s 200-5 en-route to a Saturday double over Kendal as Kev Reid’s side won by 90 runs.

Darwen looked like they would have to fight for a second win of the day over Fleetwood as Zac Coultas and Scott Richardson launched the visitors’ innings with a stand of 54.

However, Fleetwood were all out for 113 at Birch Hall, with Christian Davies recording figures of 6-29 off 14.3 overs.

And the hosts struggled home with two wickets to spare, despite Jack Wilkinson taking 4-30.