The Fleet still flying

Richard Openshaw delivers for Lytham in their win over Ormskirk.
Richard Openshaw delivers for Lytham in their win over Ormskirk.
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FLEETWOOD CC’s outstanding start to the Northern Premier League season shows no sign of ending after two more wins.

A comfortable victory at Lancaster saw them close the gap on division one leaders Barrow after Mat Clark’s side opened their twenty20 campaign with a thumping win over neighbours St Annes.

Chris Stanhope took 4-15 as St Annes were restricted to 121-7 (Atiq Uz-Zaman making 33), a target Fleetwood reached in just 12 overs to polish off an eight-wicket win as Adam Parker powered his side home with 78.

Fleetwood, who continue their twenty20 campaign at home to Blackpool on Thursday, then defeated Lancaster by nine wickets in Saturday’s league match, having removed their hosts for exactly 100 as professional Shaun Liebisch and Naveed Yousaf took three wickets apiece.

Adam Parker claimed a couple and there were two run-outs.

A half-century by Mike Clinning then steered Fleetwood towards a most comprehensive victory, Dean Bell scoring 46.

To complete a fine few days for second-placed Fleetwood, they cut Barrow’s advantage to 14 points after the leaders lost the Cumbrian derby by 21 runs to Kendal.

However, they can extend their lead today, when Fleetwood don’t feature in the second round of holiday weekend fixtures.

Barrow visit Carnforth, who went down by three wickets at home to St Annes, for whom Dinuk Hettiarachchi shone with the bat as well as the ball.

It was a much-needed victory for the champions, only their second of the season and Sri Lankan spinner Hettiarachchi played a huge part.

The Vernon Road professional bowled unchanged as usual for 5-67 (off 25 overs) as the home side finished on 198-8 from their 50 overs.

The majority of Carnforth’s runs were scored by patient top-order duo Ryan Nelson (68) and Toby Bulcock (47).

Atiq Uz-Zaman got the St Annes reply off to a fine start with 50 but it was Hettiarachchi who accelerated his side past the winning post with 48 from 49 deliveries.

Captain Andy Kellett and Neil Bradley both scored 37 before falling to Bulcock (3-72 from 24), but Carnforth’s leading wicket-taker was Adam Cowperthwaite, whose 4-90 off 17.3 included all the top three.

St Annes sealed victory by three wickets with nine balls remaining to climb a place ahead of today’s derby at Blackpool, who just about held on for a draw at third-placed Netherfield.

The in-form Cumbrians put the Blackpool bowling to the sword after electing to bat, blasting 299-4 from 48 overs,

South African professional Cobus Pienaar gave his most punishing performance yet, firing 114 off 108 balls with 17 fours and a six.

Pienaar shared a third-wicket stand of 152 with Chris Williams, who scored at an even faster rate – 93 from 62 balls, including ten fours and six sixes.

The Blackpool bowlers suffered, only Richard Gleeson with 2-78 from 19 overs having any success in containing the free-scoring duo.

Blackpool’s own South African, Dale Deeb, claimed a wicket but at the cost of 104 from his 14 overs of leg spin.

The visitors then lost their top three for ducks to Stuart Nixon, who finished with 3-5 from 4-3 overs.

Captain Paul Danson and Andy Furniss then steadied the ship by putting on 83 for the fourth wicket.

Danson scored 46 from 80 balls, including nine fours, before becoming one of Marc Hadwin’s four victims (for 55 runs from 17). Furniss scored 45 offf 85.

After both departed, Blackpool continued to lose wickets but they held on for the draw with their last pair at the crease, thanks largely to Simon Long’s unbeaten 34 from 40 balls.

James Smith contributed strongly too with 36 as Blackpool closed on 176-9 from 52 overs.