St Annes CC’s injured skipper Nathan Armstrong will not be able to help his side in their quest to reach the semi-finals of the Lancashire Cricket Federation Club Knockout on Sunday – but he hopes victory at Netherfield will act as a springboard in their relegation fight.
READ MORE: Fleetwood complete league double over Blackpool but miss out on T20 title
St Annes sit second-bottom of the Northern Premier League and are the only club without a win going into tomorrow’s away clash with leaders Leyland.
They have fared better in the LCF Knockout, with wins over Oswaldtwistle Immanuel, Woodbank and Barrow setting up this weekend’s trip to Netherfield.
For Armstrong it has been frustrating to watch on from the sidelines. St Annes had targeted last weekend’s home much against fellow strugglers Penrith for a much-needed league win but they lost a high-scoring game by seven wickets.
The skipper will be out of action for a couple more weeks but hopes that under his deputy, Richard Staines, St Annes can use their cup run as a platform to turn around their league fortunes.
Armstrong told The Gazette: “It has been very frustrating. I tore a ligament in my left knee fielding at Fleetwood.
“I landed on it and tried to hobble on but it kept on giving way.
“They said it would be six-12 weeks when I did it and it has been five now, so it is still a wait.
“I’m a terrible watcher. I’m bad enough when I’m in the team and just watching other people bat, so not being able to have any impact on anything is terrible.
“Hopefully I will be back soon – there is plenty of cricket left.
“If we can get a win on Sunday we’d get to the semi-final (to face Norden or Garstang). It’s like any form of cup run – you can find form off the back of them.
“Netherfield are a good team, with lots of good players, but we have managed to find a way to win in cup cricket this season, and to do so again could be a massive boost for us.”
Before then, there is a chance to reverse their fortunes by beating the league leaders.
Armstrong added: “We’ve not hit our straps at all in the league, though we have done reasonably well in Sunday cricket and are in the Lancashire cup quarter-final.
“We also did OK in the National Knockout and won games in the T20, so it is just our league form we’ve struggled with.
“But I do think we are one win away from hitting form. It is just about getting that belief back and remembering how to win games.
“I’m confident we can get out of the mess we have got ourselves into.
“But it is going to take a lot of application and effort, and I think we are going to have to beat some good teams.
“There are no weak teams in the league but I do believe that on our day we can beat any of them.
“We just have to do less talking and more doing out on the pitch.
“I’m sure we can get out of it if we work hard.”
Fleetwood Cricket Club return to Garstang tomorrow seeking revenge in a top-of-the-table Northern League clash.
Garstang were crowned Readers T20 champions last Sunday, beating Fleetwood on home turf in the final.
The clubs are second and third in the league, with Fleetwood seeking a win which would lift them above their hosts and could see Mat Clark’s (right) side go top if St Annes can shock Leyland.
It’s a big weekend for Blackpool, who will be anxious to revitalise their title defence at home to Kendal after back-to-back defeats.
The Stanley Park club find themselves in the wrong half of the table, with their Cumbrian visitors immediately below them.
Sunday’s LCF Club Knockout quarter-final takes Blackpool to Darwen, their old Northern League rivals now struggling in the Lancashire League.
St Annes are also in the last eight but the Fylde coast rivals cannot meet until the final.
Winless Lytham are 16 point adrift at the foot of the Liverpool Competition’s ECB premier league and it gets no easier at home to third-placed Ormskirk tomorrow.
An all-Fylde coast final in the Palace Shield’s Meyler Cup is possible if Thornton Cleveleys and South Shore can win their semi-finals.
Shield action on the Fylde coast sees the premier division’s bottom club Fylde welcome New Longton for a key game in their relegation battle.
Third-placed Kirkham and Wesham are just two points off the top of division one A as they welcome Mawdesley, hoping for a slip by Thornton Cleveleys or leaders Tarleton.
Northern Premier League: Blackpool v Kendal, Garstang v Fleetwood, Leyland v St Annes, Chorley v Longridge, Netherfield v Barrow, Penrith v Fulwood and Broughton
Liverpool Competition ECB Premier League: Lytham v Ormskirk
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Fylde v New Longton, Standish v South Shore, Vernon Carus v Great Eccleston, Eccleston v Preston, Lancaster v Croston, Penwortham v Morecambe
Division 1A: Kirkham and Wesham v Mawdesley, Torrisholme v Thornton Cleveleys, Whittle and Clayton-le-Woods v Norcross, Rufford v Hoghton, Tarleton v Grimsargh.
Lancashire Cricket Federation Knockout quarter-finals: Darwen v Blackpool, Netherfield v St Annes, Norden v Garstang, Walsden v Horwich RMI
Meyler Cup semi-finals: Thornton Cleveleys v Mawdesley, Croston v South Shore