Blackpool CC captain Paul Danson believes four teams can still win the Northern Premier League, even though his leaders have at least one game in hand on all their title rivals.
Neighbours Fleetwood played a first division double-header while the Stanley Park team were inactive weekend but failed to make inroads into Blackpool’s lead, beaten by Leyland and restricted to a losing draw at Penrith.
It means Blackpool return to action at home to Preston tomorrow still at the top of the pile, while closest challengers Leyland have played a game more and Fleetwood two.
But the lead has been cut to three points and Blackpool must squeeze seven matches into the final five weekends of the season, while also battling for silverware in the last four of the Readers Cup.
Indeed, this weekend is followed by a triple-header, with back-to-back league and cup games against Netherfield and then a bank holiday derby at Fleetwood.
And with such a busy schedule, it’s no surprise Danson is taking nothing for granted and wouldn’t rule out the title race going down to a final-day showdown between his side and Leyland on September 17. Danson told The Gazette: “Some people are saying we’ve won it already but we have the hardest run-in and if we drop points to Preston we could be second on Saturday night.
“Preston have improved on last season and will be a threat, so we can’t underestimate them. The weather could intervene too and the forecast for Saturday isn’t the best.
“Fleetwood didn’t take advantage of their two games last weekend but they are still in it, and I know Mat Clark will have them fired up.
“Leyland did us favours by beating Fleetwood and Barrow (in fourth) but the upshot is that they are now breathing down our necks.”
And with a possible nine games to cram into the final month, Danson knows anything can happen – not that he would swap Blackpool’s position for anyone else’s.
He added: “We can’t complain because the club is in a great place. The first and second teams are top of their league. We have a league cup semi-final a week on Sunday and the Under-19s are through to their finals day (see below).
“The pro (New Zealander Daryl Mitchell) is here until the end of the season and he has been fantastic. We would love him to come back next year but that’s one for the future.
“We could be missing Tom Jefferson for the two Netherfield games but other than that everyone should be available for the rest of the season, fitness permitting.”
It’s Fleetwood’s turn for a blank weekend, while St Annes head to Kendal.
Just one point separates those teams in mid-table, both having won one and last one last weekend. Both played Morecambe, St Annes winning by five wickets and Kendal losing by eight, which will encourage Vernon Road skipper Matt Grindley ahead of the trip to Shap Road.
Lytham’s hopes of ending their five-match losing run in the Liverpool Competition at bottom club Birkenhead Park last weekend were dashed in a 39-run defeat, meaning tomorrow’s visit to ECB premier division leaders Northern looks a daunting prospect.
Blackpool Bullets, will contest finals day of the ECB National ClubU19 T20 at Southport and Birkdale on Sunday, having beaten Deane and Derby Lions in the quarter-finals by 72 runs.
Jake Muncaster had a remarkable match, top-scoring with 41 in the Bullets’ 130-8 and then taking 5-7 from 16 deliveries as the Bolton side were dismissed for 58 in 11.4 overs. Matthew Siddall chipped in with 3-13 from three overs as Mohammed Bhola (31) scored most of D&D’s runs as five of his team-mates failed to score.