Blackpool’s first defeat of the season cost them top spot in cricket’s Northern Premier League, enabling both St Annes and Fleetwood to close the gap on their Fylde coast neighbours with three-wicket home wins in thrillers which went to the wire.
Champions Netherfield replace Blackpool at the top courtesy of a comfortable six-wicket win at Stanley Park which halted their hosts’ 10-match unbeaten run.
Blackpool were put into bat and never managed to cut loose before being dismissed for 136 in 45.5 overs.
Opener Matthew Houston gave them a solid start with 38, but although three of those who followed reached the 20s, none could go on to make a telling score.
They were kept in check by Marc Hadwin’s 4-22 from 13.5 overs and John Boyle with 4-36 off 14.
Josh Dixon led the reply with 42 for Netherfield before a fourth-wicket stand of 56 between Bradley Earl (32no) and John Huck (30) took them to the brink of a victory sealed at 138-4 after 39.3 overs. This lifted the Cumbrians two points above Blackpool at the top.
Blackpool now share second spot with St Annes, for whom Richard Staines struck a boundary off the final ball to seal a nailbiting victory over Fulwood and Broughton at Vernon Road.
Coming in at a precarious 95-5 chasing 220-8, the wicketkeeper fired an unbeaten 63 from 83 balls.
Staines put on 51 for the sixth wicket with captain Nathan Armstrong, shared another important partnership for the seventh with Tom Higson (35) before seeing St Annes home in an unbroken stand of 35 with Andy Drake. F&B’s Arbab Munir took 3-85 from 17 overs.
The visitors chose to bat and their challenging total was built on a fifth-wicket stand worth 119 between Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan and captain Mark Smith, who scored 56 from 80 balls.
The stand was broken by the league’s top-ranked bowler Amar Ullah, the St Annes professional taking 4-64 from his 16 overs.
Kerrigan went on to reach 95 with 10 fours and three sixes before he was last man out, having faced 111 deliveries.
The match at Broadwater followed a similar pattern and also built to a gripping finale, Fleetwood scoring the winning runs off the penultimate ball to reach 213-7 in reply to Morecambe’s 210-7.
The visitors chose to bat and the second-wicket partnership of Luke Jongwe (37) and Luke Pearson (27) gave them a solid foundation, but it was wicketkeeper Reuben Orr who steered Morecambe beyond 200, coming in at number seven to fire 54 from 78 balls with six fours and a six.
Professional Neels Bergh then guided Fleetwood towards victory with 45 from 46 balls, sharing a vital third-wicket stand with captain Dean Bell, who made a more patient 41 from 85 deliveries.
Fleetwood remain in a tie for fifth spot with Garstang, still a point behind Chorley who were five-wicket winners over Penrith.
Two Freckleton players scored centuries in their mammoth 309-4 in the Palace Shield division 1A derby win at Kirkham and Wesham
Jonathan Goodin scored 104 from 132 and Edward Fiddler 108 from 83, including 20 fours, as they shared a stand of 189 for Freckleton’s second wicket.
The visitors won by 66 runs to stay top after dismissing Kirkham for 243 in a game which produced 552 runs. The hosts lost their top-four spot to Hoghton.
The Fylde coast’s three premier division clubs all lost at home in matches which showed the gulf between teams at the top and bottom ends of the table, with Thornton Cleveleys swamped by Lancaster by 207 runs.
South Shore’s Meyler Cup hopes ended for another year with a seven wicket loss to Penwortham in Sunday’s quarter-final.
The damage was done when South Shore batted first and were all out for 94, skipper Daniel Jardine top-scoring with 94.
Thomas Wilson took 4-16 for Penwortham, who comfortably reached 97-3 in reply as opener Robbie Sumner ended undefeated on 44 while Michael Hall claimed 2-20.
Lytham’s three-match winning run in the Liverpool Competition was halted by a home draw with Leigh, though Church Road spectators were hardly disappointed after seeing a tremendous 566 runs scored.
Leigh’s Adam Shallcross matched his career best with an unbeaten 133 from 130 balls as the visitors chose to bat and declared after 53 overs on a mammoth 291-6.
Shallcross, who struck 14 fours and three sixes, shared in a third-wicket stand of 197 with Thomas Foster after the openers fell cheaply.
Foster’s 93 came from 134 balls (14 fours) but his departure brought a glimmer of hope for the hosts as 209-2 soon became 210-5.
However, number eight Finnegan Hulbert blasted 36 from 24 balls to share an unbroken stand of 64 with Shallcross for the eighth wicket.
Taylor Cornall was the pick of Lytham’s bowlers with 3-62 from 12 overs and then led their reply with his first century of the season.
The opener’s 101 came from 135 balls, including 14 fours and a six, and Cornall (left) put on 156 for the third wicket with Tom Jefferson, whose 80 from 83 deliveries featured 11 fours and two sixes.
Captain Toby Lester then kept Lytham’s hopes of an unlikely win alive with 41 from 30 deliveries but after his departure at 268-5 the momentum was lost.
Even so, Lytham held out to close 16 runs short at 275-7 from 53 overs, Toby Bulcock finishing with 4-107 from 21 balls
Lytham rise above Rainhill to go fifth in the ECB premier league, though only six points separate them from Leigh in eighth.