Tough test is lying in wait for Leyland

Leyland's Aussie professional Alex Ross scored 93 last weekend

Leyland's Aussie professional Alex Ross scored 93 last weekend

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Leyland will have their title-defence credentials put to the test tomorrow when they host Blackpool.

It is a first-versus-second battle, with Blackpool arriving at Fox Lane having won nine Northern League games on the bounce.

But Leyland’s form is strong too, last weekend’s double header seeing a victory and a draw against Netherfield and Barrow respectively.

They hold a three-point lead at the top of the table with the season having tipped over into its second half.

Skipper David Makinson told the Evening Post: “It will be a good game tomorrow as long as the weather holds.

“Blackpool are in good form, having won a lot of games on the trot.

“Their pro Christi Viljoen has had a good season and Richard Gleeson seems to be fully fit and playing very well.

“We are in decent shape ourselves and were close to securing two wins last week.

“It is nice to be at the top of the table but it is too early yet to be talking about who are the favourites.

“Over the next six weeks or so the league will take proper shape and we will see where we are then.

“A team near the top can quite easily lose a few games on the bounce and slip down.

“Likewise, someone could string three or four wins together and climb the table.”

Henry Thompson excelled with the bat last week, scoring 86 against Netherfield and 83 during the visit to Barrow.

Leyland’s Australian pro Alex Ross bettered Thompson’s tally at Barrow with a knock of 93.

And had it not been for a bizarre run-out, Ross would in all likelihood have gone on to make a ton.

Said Makinson: “Rossy was in great form last Sunday and looked good for a huge score. He hit a good shot to backward point and was looking to run two.

“When Rossy turned for the second to go back to the danger end – although there wasn’t any danger – both he and Henry moved in the same direction.

“They crashed into each other and the bails were taken off to run him out.

“It was unfortunate because I’m certain Rossy would have gone on to make 150 the way he was going.

“Those two have batted together before and so are used to each other – it was just one of those things.

“Henry is playing well at the moment and is a very good player.

“Earlier in the season he didn’t get a bat too often either through missing games or because we were knocking off the runs before we got to him.”

Luis Reece will be available for Leyland tomorrow, having been in action for Lancashire’s second XI against Warwickshire at Southport this week.

At the age of 53, Makinson is still going strong leading Leyland.

The former Lancashire player collected seven wickets in last weekend’s two games.

“I bowl when I’m needed and it is still a great feeling to take a wicket,” said Makinson.

“Being the skipper is a great job and having a bit of success makes it easier.”

Elsewhere on tomorrow’s fixture card, Chorley resume action after last weekend’s break, playing host to Barrow at Windsor Park.

Preston welcome Kendal to West Cliff, while Morecambe meet Penrith.

St Annes host third-placed Darwen, while Lancaster are without a game.

A superb battle at the top of the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division is developing as the season moves into its second half.

The leadership has changed hands on several occasions, with Garstang the current incumbents.

Garstang host Thornton Cleveleys tomorrow as they look to stay in top spot and go into the clash in good form following last week’s 10-wicket demolition of Freckleton.

Vernon Carus, who are level on points with Garstang, visit Guild Park to take on Whittingham and Goosnargh.

Third-placed Great Eccleston are at home to 
BAC/EE Preston.

Longridge, who are right up there in the leading pack, make the visit to Fulwood and Broughton.

Withnell Fold, without a win since their promotion to the top flight, go to Fylde.

Meanwhile, the Palace Shield 20/20 finals day will be at Great Eccleston on Sunday, July 13, starting at 11am.

FIXTURES

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Chorley v Barrow, Leyland v Barrow, Morecmabe v Penrith, Netherfield v Fleetwood, Preston v Kendal, St Annes v Darwen. Sunday: Penrith v Lancashire Colts.

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Fulwood and Broughton v Longridge, Fylde v Withnell Fold, Garstang v Thornton Cleveleys, Great Eccleston v BAC/EE Preston, Penwortham v Freckleton, Whittingham and Goosnargh v Vernon Carus.