Reece returns to boost Blackpool's bid to wrap up Northern League title
Richard Gleeson might not be back for Blackpool's title decider, but another former Stanley Park player and current county cricketer Luis Reece is set to aid Paul Danson's men on the final day of the season.
Blackpool are seven points ahead of the holders Netherfield going into the final round of the Northern Premier League fixtures on Saturday.
Danson’s side host a Penrith team with nothing but pride to play for – they are ninth in the table but clear of relegation danger – while Netherfield head to mid-table Garstang.
And with last week’s seven-wicket hero Gleeson not expected to feature for his hometown club – his county match at Kent, in which the seamer has taken nine wickets for Northamptonshire, only concludes today – Blackpool have managed to bring in a substitute professional who knows what lifting the title for the first time in four years will mean to the club.
Derbyshire left-hander Reece is managing his recovery from injury and Danson is happy to draft him in.
The skipper said of the former Lancashire all-rounder: “Luis has just come back from injury and it is great for him to get a run out.
“He will give his all because he has played for us in the past and knows what this means.
“He will slot straight in and hopefully help us do the job.”
Danson is aware the title is in his side’s hands. They need only match Netherfield’s result, while victory will guarantee a 17th league crown regardless of what the Cumbrians do.
The experienced skipper predicted at the start of the season that Netherfield were the team Blackpool would have to finish above to claim the crown.
Danson said: “It is a game with so much riding on it but in other terms it is just another game. We will just prepare like it is the first game of the season.
“We are just trying to keep calm but we’re happy Penrith are not in contention for relegation. They are not fighting for anything but we know they will be coming here wanting to get a scalp.
“This year the league has been really competitive. We said at the start that anyone who finished above Netherfield would probably win the league and that is the position we are in.”
Without Gleeson in the attack, Danson feels Matt Grindley from St Annes could be his main weapon with the ball, though the skipper says his homegrown players are key to Blackpool’s success .
He said: “I have been involved for a long time. When I took over there were a lot of outsiders, a team of people from across Lancashire.
“Now this is a Blackpool team, full of players who have come through the ranks at this club and who have come through together.
“There is just me and Andy Furniss from outside the area. Matt made the switch from St Annes this year but already knew a lot of the lads from playing in this area.
“He has been a great acquisition, who has given us great starts at the top of the bowling.”
St Annes are secure in third spot in cricket’s Northern Premier League but could sneak into second if they end the season with victory over Barrow at Vernon Road and Netherfield slip up at Garstang.
At Broadwater, eighth-placed Fleetwood will face a fired-up Fulwood and Broughton, who need to win to ensure they stay out of the bottom two and so avoid the risk of relegation.
The Palace Shield season still has two Saturdays to go but Longridge will be crowned champions tomorrow if they win at New Longton, while Thornton Cleveleys must beat third-placed Kendal at Illawalla to have any hope of staying in the premier division.
Fylde can seal promotion to the top flight with victory at Tarleton. Standish already know they are going up but they will do so as division 1A champions with a home win over Grimsargh.
Second-bottom Norcross go to Withnell Fold in a crunch relegation clash.
Lytham’s final home game of the Liverpool Competition season is against second-bottom Rainford. The St Helens side must win to keep their survival hopes alive.
Northern Premier Cricket League: Blackpool v Penrith, Chorley v Morecambe, Fleetwood v Fulwood and Broughton, Garstang v Netherfield, Leyland v Preston, St Annes v Barrow
Liverpool Competition ECB premier league: Lytham v Rainford
Moore and Smalley Palace Shield premier division: Croston v Penwortham, Great Eccleston v Vernon Carus, New Longton v Longridge, South Shore v Lancaster, Thornton Cleveleys v Kendal, Torrisholme v Eccleston
Division 1A: BAC/EE Preston v Freckleton, Kirkham and Wesham v Rufford, Mawdesley v Hoghton, Standish v Grimsargh, Tarleton v Fylde, Withnell Fold v Norcross