Makinson primed for title showdown

South African Brett Pelser will line up for Leyland this weekend

South African Brett Pelser will line up for Leyland this weekend

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Leyland captain David Makinson has virtually seen it all in his long cricket career, but even he admits this weekend will be a completely new experience for him.

The 55-year-old all-rounder takes his men to Stanley Park tomorrow to take on leaders Blackpool in a dramatic Northern League title shoot-out.

Just four points separate the two teams at the top of the table – and whoever comes out victorious on the Fylde coast will be crowned champions.

Makinson has been involved in tense finishes to the season before.

The last time Leyland won the title in 2013, they came from behind in the league table on the final day to pip Barrow.

But he has never come up against the team he is fighting for the title with, in the final match.

“I have never been in this situation before,” said Makinson. “It’s pretty unusual.

“It’s a massive day for both teams – first against second in the league. It’s going to be like a cup final.

“ I remember in 2013, we went into the last game of the season behind at the top of the table.

“We were playing Darwen and Barrow were playing Blackpool. We ended up getting 15 points – we batted first and then bowled Darwen out cheaply.

“Blackpool and Barrow’s game got rained off.”

The forecast for this weekend looks promising and Makinson is hopeful the weather does not ultimately decide the outcome.

“That’s the thing – we hope the weather does not play a part because obviously Blackpool are in front of us,” said Makinson, who skippered his side to a comprehensive victory over Penrith last weekend.

While the odds are slightly against Leyland, Makinson admits his men will draw confidence from their good record at Stanley Park in recent years.

“Our record has been pretty good there over the last seven years,” he said. “I was only looking at it the other day.

“I think we have won four and lost one – in 2012 – a couple have been abandoned.

“We have had some big scores, but have also batted second and beaten them.

“But Blackpool are a good team. They have got some good players like Stephen Twist and Andy Furniss.

“But we have no reason to be afraid – we will go there feeling confident.”

Brett Pelser is expected to line up for Leyland tomorrow as their sub-professional. The South African was the professional at Fox Lane when they clinched the league title in 2010 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Fulwood and Broughton can clinch the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title this weekend with victory at Freckleton.

Second-placed Vernon Carus will look to beat Garstang and hope for a F&B slip-up.

FIXTURES

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Blackpool v Leyland, Chorley v Morecambe, Fleetwood v Lancaster, Kendal v Darwen, Penrith v Barrow, Preston v St Annes, Netherfield – no game

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Croston v Torrisholme, Freckleton v Fulwood and Broughton, Garstang v Vernon Carus, Great Eccleston v Penwortham, Longridge v Thornton Cleveleys, Whittingham and Goosnargh v Fylde