Lune Road skipper wants to look up

Lancaster celebrate a wicket for Kasun Madushanka
Lancaster celebrate a wicket for Kasun Madushanka
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Ben Simm is confident his Lancaster side are on the up.

The Lune Road men picked up their second Northern Premier League victory of the season on Saturday by knocking off much-fancied Blackpool at Lune Road with a three-wicket win.

It means a side who finished bottom of the table in 2016 head into this weekend’s bank holiday double header in good spirits, Simm’s men hosting local rivals Morecambe on Saturday before travelling to Fleetwood on Monday.

Hopes are high for professional Kasun Madushanka who took four wickets in the Blackpool win, ripping through one of the best top orders in the league.

“We had a disappointing start, especially in the manner we lost the games,” said Simm.

“We put ourselves in good positions and then lost quick wickets.

“But on Saturday all three facets of our game improved massively.

“Our fielding was outstanding, especially from Jordan Sparks.

“The bowling was excellent too with the pro leading from the front.
He’s one of the best I’ve played with on first viewing and has settled into English conditions well.

“He never bowls a bad ball and always looks like taking a wicket.

“If we can string a few wins together now we can look towards the top end.

“We did really well on Saturday and hopefully it’s the start of things to come.”

Elswhere on Saturday, second-placed Leyland host early season leaders Chorley and second from bottom Preston travel to St Annes.

Blackpool and Fleetwood, Netherfield and Kendal, Penrith and Barrow also meet on a day of derbies.

Monday sees Preston host Netherfield, Leyland welcome St Annes and Morecambe travel to Fleetwood.

Meanwhile, Longridge skipper Kyle Helm admits the prospect of playing Northern League cricket next season rests with his players – in more ways than one.

The men from Chipping Road moved to the top of the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division last weekend thanks to a maximum points haul at Penwortham.

They have begun the new season in fine style – winning all of their opening five league games and together with second-placed Garstang have opened up a 12-point lead at the top.

For the first time ever, promotion to the Northern League is on offer to the league champions and the runners-up. However, the clubs finishing in the top two will have the option of declining a place in the Northern League and staying where they are in the Palace Shield.

Helm said the likelihood of Northern League cricket coming to the Newsham Memorial Ground next year depended on the players continuing their fine form for the rest of the summer and then deciding whether they fancied a crack at the division above.

“I think the club would like it – going up to the Northern League,” said Helm, who acknowledge the extra travelling commitments involved in being promoted.

“When and if it comes, and we were to finish in the top two at the end of the season, the final decision on going up will come down to the players.

“It will be the players who will be going to play in it and so it will be their decision.

“I do know the club would welcome it though.”

Along with their quest to win the Premier Division title for the first, Longridge are also going great guns in the cups.

They have already secured excellent wins over Westhoughton and St Annes in the ECB National Knockout competition and last Sunday were too strong for Euxton in the first round of the LCB Cup.

This weekend sees a number of mouth-watering fixtures including Longridge’s home match against Vernon Carus, while Garstang host reigning champions Fulwood and Broughton.

Weekend fixtures

Northern League: Tomorrow – Barrow v Penrith, Blackpool v Fleetwood, Chorley v Leyland, Lancaster v Morecambe, Netherfield v Kendal, St Annes v Preston; Monday – Chorley v Morecambe, Fleetwood v Lancaster, Kendal v Barrow, Leyland v St Annes, Penrith v Blackpool, Preston v Netherfield

Palace shield: Tomorrow – Eccleston v Penwortham, F&B v Garstang, Great Eccleston v Freckleton, Longridge v Vernon Carus, Rufford v Croston, Torrisholme v Thornton Cleveleys