Ball that could change our season

Matt Clark crashes a spectacular boundary
Matt Clark crashes a spectacular boundary
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FLEETWOOD skipper Matt Clark is hopeful that Monday’s last-ball derby win at Blackpool will prove the turning point of their season.

Clark was at the non-striker’s end at Stanley Park, when ninth-wicket partner Joe Bell faced the final ball with two required for victory.

Despite a run-out appeal by Blackpool’s Richard Gleeson, Bell managed to scramble a second run to secure Fleetwood’s first Northern Premier League victory since they shocked champions Leyland on the opening day.

Clark recalled: “Joe is the person you would want facing the final ball in that situation because he is the fastest in our team. He’s like lightning between the wickets.

“It was a very good game which could have gone either way, and Blackpool are always a good test because they never give up. Gleeson and Steven Mercer both bowled well for them.”

At the start of the season, Clark expressed the wish that his side would emerge from the shadow of St Annes and Blackpool in 2011, and although Fleetwood still sit bottom of division one the skipper hopes Monday’s win signals an upturn in their fortunes.

“We have lost some we should have won. I thought we put up a competitive total at Preston on Saturday (154-7, which the hosts overhauled for the loss of three wickets), but hopefully our bit of luck on Monday was just what we needed to turn our season round.

“There is an art to winning matches, especially batting second. We are learning it and you can learn from a club like St Annes, who are very good at it.”

Clark is satisfied with the progress his club has made this year, with Australian Ryan Smith setting a fine example after his promotion from the amateur ranks to become this season’s professional.

The captain added: “I couldn’t be happier with Ryan. He has scored over 200 and taken 22 wickets. We have got Adam Parker in the runs (he scored 70 at Blackpool) and it’s great to have wicketkeeper Dean Bell back from Cambridge University.”

The real find of Fleetwood’s season so far is Kieran McGann, who claimed 3-26 from 11 overs at Stanley Park.

“Kieran is a raw teenager with plenty of promise,” added Clark. “He has come to us from Norcross, where he was pointed out by our ex-bowler Steve Hill. Our training has improved this season and we are getting 18-20 at each session.”

Clark’s side will be well tested by Morecambe at Broadwater tomorrow. This visitors lost at Lancaster on Monday but stand fourth in the table. Fleetwood then face a win-or-bust Twenty20 clash with St Annes next Friday after losing their opener to Blackpool.