There were big bank holiday wins for St Annes and Fleetwood in cricket’s Northern Premier League but Blackpool had to settle for a winning draw against Chorley.
St Annes moved ahead in the race for second place behind runaway champions Netherfield courtesy of a nine-wicket win at Barrow.
The hosts soon regretted their decision to bat at Ernest Pass, where they were dismissed for just 53 in 27.4 overs.
St Annes’ Tom Higson returned remarkable figures of 5-5 from 6.4 overs and opener Jamie Pinforld scored almost half of Barrow’s runs.
Atiq-uz-Zaman then steered the visitors to a winning score of 55-1 in 14.3 overs with an unbeaten 29.
Dean Bell’s decision to bat at home to Preston was certainly the right one as the Fleetwood skipper piled on 158 in a career-best innings, steering his side to a mammoth 303-7.
It was a first-ever Northern League century for the captain, who hit 25 fours and found valuable allies in opener Jarrod Coombe (47) and Tom Wilson (40) before being run out.
Fleetwood proceeded to wrap up a 152-run victory after dismissing the visitors for 151 in 44.1 overs, professional Neels Bergh moving past 50 league wickets for the season with his 3-55 off 17 overs. There were three victims for Joe McCluskie too (for 32 off 9.1).
Preston looked like making a game of it with opener Geeth Malinda (54) and number four Irshad Desai (56) at the crease but the seven men in after him scored just 12 between them.
Having started the day three points in front of St Annes, Blackpool are now three points behind in third having been held to a draw by Chorley, despite the best efforts of substitute professional Ockert Erasmus.
The South African was the game’s top scorer with 76 and later claimed three Chorley wickets, for 30 runs off 17 overs, but the visitors held on at 137-8 chasing Blackpool’s 187-5.
Blackpool were asked to bat and put on 57 for the opening wicket before Erasmus came to the crease and struck nine fours before being run out, having shared a third-wicket stand of 61 with Dan Barling.
Chorley slip to fifth, overtaken by a Leyland side who won by six wickets at Lancaster and are three points behind Blackpool with two Saturdays of the season remaining.