St Annes seize title initiative

Blackpool CC 1xt X1 (BATTING) v Carnforth. Andy Furniss is out.
Blackpool CC 1xt X1 (BATTING) v Carnforth. Andy Furniss is out.
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St Annes CC stretched their lead to 22 points in what may prove a defining weekend in the Northern Premier League title race.

Andy Kellett’s side claimed a maximum 15-point haul despite being all out for 91 at Lancaster, while closest rivals Leyland lost heavily at home to Kendal.

There was also a long-awaited victory for Fleetwood but also a home defeat for Blackpool against struggling Carnforth.

St Annes were again without their prolific professional Dinuk Hettiarachchi, who is back home in Sri Lanka with his expectant wife, but for the second successive weekend they recruited a highly able deputy spinner.

Qaiser Abbas, the 29-year-old Todmorden left-armer, proved an inspired choice by overshadowing Lancaster seamer Liam Moffatt, whose 5-38 off 14 overs saw St Annes back in the pavilion in 32 overs, having recovered somewhat from 49-7.

Openers Nanthesh Kiruparan and No.9 Neil Bradley were joint-top scorers with 14 as Ben Simm took 3-41 and skipper Michael Stevens 2-5 from two overs.

Abbas then did a Dinuk by bowling unchanged from one end and collecting 7-30 from his 21 overs. He received good support from the promising Matthew Grindley, whose 7.5 overs went for just nine runs and produced two wickets.

Kieran Moffatt hit a valiant undefeated 28 but was left high and dry when Charles Boucher took a fine catch to dismiss last-man Moffatt off Grindley.

And St Annes’ day got even betterwith news of Leyland’s 108-run defeat in the Fox Lane dress rehearsal for next Sunday’s Readers Cup Final against Kendal.

Pro Ryan Smith produced the fireworks in Fleetwood’s 46-run win over Preston at Broadwater. The hosts were in trouble at 87-6 until Smith’s unbeaten 82 off 64 balls steered them to 172 without further loss.

The Australian his five sixes and his final 55 runs came off only 23 balls, while Scott Richardson stood firm at the other end in the unbroken 85-run stand. Preston pro Saeed Bariwala took 4-90.

Opener Mohsin Modhi hit 58 in Preston’s reply but Sam Bell and Mike Clinning each took three wickets (Clinning’s for just ten runs off 4.1) as the visitors were dismissed for 126 in 41.1 overs to complete Fleetwood’s first win since May.

Stanley Park served up another low-scoring affair, with Carnforth indebted to an unbeaten 23 by Adam Cowperthwaite to edge them past Blackpool with one wicket to spare.

Carnforth pro Gareth Pedder took 6-31, five of his victims clean-bowled, including Blackpool top scorer Daniel Dixon for 18.

The home side were dismissed for 89 in 39.5 overs as Matt Weller supported Pedder with 3-12.

Blackpool pro Con De Lange returned the best figures of the game, 6-15 off 13 overs, but opener Ryan Nelson (25) and Cowperthwaite saw the visitors home in a nerve-wracking finish.

In division two, Harrison Clark hit an unbeaten 101 in Blackpool’s 87-run win at Carnforth.