Leyland up for the cup as Luis returns

Luis Reece
Luis Reece
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Leyland are looking to finish what has been an indifferent season by their standards with a flourish on Sunday

David Makinson’s men take on Barrow at Fox Lane in the final of the Benchmarx Kitchens and Joinery Cup.

Although a poor middle of the season put paid to their chances of defending their Northern League Division One title, they have run into some form of late.

Victory over new champions Netherfield – who have won the league at a canter – in the semi-final on Sunday gives them the opportunity to win some silverware.

The win over the Cumbrians was also sweet revenge after losing to them in the final of the T20 Cup in July.

“We’re looking forward to the final against Barrow,” Makinson said.

“It was good win over Netherfield on Sunday, especially as they beat us in the final of the T20 Cup and they have also won the league.

“We wanted to get one back on them and we played well.”

Sri Lanka professional Pabasara Waduge will miss out on appearing in the final as he is going home on the same day.

But the club have moved quickly to replace him by 
recruiting Derbyshire professional and old boy Luis Reece as their sub-pro for the day

“Our pro Pab is going home on Sunday – he has a tournament in Sri Lanka, but Luis Reece is sub-proing for us 
instead.

“It will be great to have him back.

“He’s one of our players really – played for us for many years. He’s at Derbyshire now and it’s a big boost that we have got him back for the final.”

Leyland could move into runners-up spot in the table on Saturday if they defeat Fleetwood at home. Chorley host Lancaster, while Preston host Penrith.

Meanwhile, Fulwood and Broughton are relishing being the hunters rather than the hunted as the cricket season enters its final stages.

The reigning Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division champions still have a great opportunity of defending their title with three games to go.

However, with nine points separating themselves in second spot and current leaders Garstang, they are very much dependent on Mark Walling’s men slipping up in the final few weeks of the season.

F&B skipper Mark Smith admits he and his team-mates know exactly how Garstang are feeling – they were in an almost identical position last summer.

On that occasion F&B withstood a formidable challenge from eventual runners-up Vernon Carus to win the title by just 11 points.

And Smith very much remembers the feeling of having Vernons – who incidentally are in third spot and still very much in this season’s title hunt – breathing down their necks last year.

He is hoping he can do the same to Garstang, who are searching for their first ever Premier Division title.

In a further interesting twist, none of the top three teams face each other in the final few weeks of the season, so it will all come down to who is able to keep their nerve.

This weekend, F&B are away to Thornton Cleveleys, Garstang visit already relegated Rufford while Vernons go to Freckleton, who also face the drop.

“We are at that stage where there are not many games to go and points become very important,” Smith said. “We are just hoping we can keep on winning and Garstang slip up.

“We were in exactly the same position last year as Garstang are in now when we won the title.

“I think there was a nine-point gap between ourselves and Vernons.

“It was so important that we won our games. I remember we would get back in the dressing room and look at the league table and see what 
Vernons had done.

“We would see that they had got full points so we could feel them breathing down our necks. That’s what we want to try to do for the last few weeks of the season – keep the pressure on Garstang.”

F&B were at their clinical best last weekend as they 
defeated Rufford in a rain-reduced clash.

Rob Kenny’s men posted 119 all out off 30 overs and the defending champions raced to victory off 23 overs.

“Rufford have already been relegated so were a little bit down, but we still had to win,” Smith said.

This weekend the skipper will be without his regular partner at the top of the order as Amin Patel is unavailable for the trip to Thornton.

“It’s not an easy place to go,” he said. “We just have 
to go there and do what we have been doing.”