Champs hopes hanging by a thread

Fleetwood's Ian Holland
Fleetwood's Ian Holland
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Fleetwood’s hopes of retaining their Northern Premier League title are fading.

The fourth-placed Broadwater club find themselves 39 points behind leaders Barrow, having had to settle for the worse of a draw at Netherfield following the previous Saturday’s home defeat by Lancaster.

Marc Barrow gave the ultimate captain’s knock as his 147 enabled the hosts to reach 269-4 after Fleetwood had put them in.

The opener hit 17 fours and two sixes in his 147-ball knock, while no.3 Colin Ackermann added a swift half-century.

Professional Ian Holland’s third ton for Fleetwood gave them hope, but once he was out for exactly 100 momentum was lost and the champions were left hanging on at 212-8.

Holland struck 11 fours and three sixes in his 109-ball innings, but only one of the eight men to come in after the Australian scored more than seven. Nathan Chambers dismissed Holland on his way to 3-48 from 13 overs.

St Annes are five points behind Fleetwood after their three-wicket victory at Chorley. Matthew Grindley and Lukman Vahaluwala were the key men, the former’s second successive five-for (for 48 from 18 overs) restricting the hosts to 173-9 at Windsor Park, no.7 Iain Critchley the top scorer with 31. Vahaluwala then took over, carrying his bat for 97 as St Annes sealed victory with 14 balls remaining.

The Indian hit 13 fours in his 138-ball innings, and despite just missing out on a second century of the season he has passed 500 league runs.

Steven Croft couldn’t inspire a return to winning ways for Blackpool, though they just about avoided defeat at second-placed Leyland.

Skipper Paul Danson put the hosts in and saw his Blackpool side made a flying start, Ben Eckton reducing Leyland to 24-3 on his way to figures of 4-30 from 10 overs.

Lancashire all-rounder Croft then took over with 4-96 from 24.4 but the hosts recovered to 203-8, thanks largely to Daniel Lamb’s 89.

Croft then got the reply off to a positive start with 43 but was outscored by no.8 Alex Smith, whose unbeaten 68 from 78 balls (11 fours) saved the match for Blackpool.

The visitors slipped from 53-1 to 76-6 as Andrew Makinson took 4-18 from 14 overs but Blackpool clung on at 170-9.

n Lytham played out a thrilling tie with Maghull but only victories will do for Guy Roberts’ side as their grip on the Liverpool Competition title loosens.

Opener Will Hale scored his first Lytham century and shared in a second-wicket stand of 189 with professional Dom O’Brien as the hosts declared at 257-4 after 54 overs.

Hale’s 115 came off 162 balls and included 14 fours, while Australian O’Brien struck 10 fours in his 102-ball 85.

The visitors looked set for victory as a third wicket stand of 118 between Sairaj Patel and captain Gregory Gillespie took them beyond 200, but a flurry of wickets reduced them to 253-9 before the final pair secured the tie after 50 overs.

Gillespie struck 62 but it was no.3 Patel who led the way with 106 from 122 balls before becoming one of Daniel Edwards’ three victims (for 60 off 16 overs).

n Garstang’s hopes of catching Moore and Smalley Palace Shield leaders Vernon Carus were hit by a 19-run defeat at home to the premier division top dogs.

A fine opening partnership between Ian Dunn (86) and Wes Royle (71) enabled Vernons to set a target of 204-5 (Ian Walling 3-49), which Garstang replied to with 185-8, Alex Rawlinson at the vanguard with 59 (Tony Knight 4-53).

Great Eccleston are just a point behind Garstang in fifth after thumping bottom club Torrisholme by 141 runs. Ecc struck an ample 205-7 at Boundary Meadow before skittling out their hosts for 64.

Freckleton are just behind in sixth, having also scored 205 (for six) in their 56-run win over BAC/EE Preston.

James Whitehead scored 53 but was outshone by Joshua Holden’s second ton of the season (106) for Freck (Nikesh Modessa 4-45). Edward Fiddler was the pick of the Freck bowlers with 3-15 as BAC/EE were removed with three balls left.

Fylde went down by 68 runs at home to Longridge chasing 201-9 (Oliver Pye 66). Andrew Sheffield was the home side’s best with 4-47 before Neil Holden claimed 4-35 for the victors.

Thornton Cleveleys went down by five wickets at sec ond-bottom Hoghton, having been dismissed for 143 (Rob Dingle 49, Will Monks 5-57). Darren Eccles then carried his bat for 72, leading Hoghton home with nine balls left (Sam Bradshaw 3-41).