Longridge have the onerous task of toppling Fulwood and Broughton to make sure of their place in the next round of this summer’s shortened cricket season

It’s all to play for local cricket sides in final group games

Friday, 14th August 2020, 7:56 am
Ian Simpson

This weekend sees the final set of matches in the first group stage of the competition replacing the Northern League and Palace Shield in 2020.

F&B top Group B with 16 points, having won all four of their matches so far.

They are four points ahead of Longridge and Garstang, both of whom have won three and lost one.

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Longridge’s better runs/wickets differential sees them ahead of Garstang but they have the task of travelling to Simon Kerrigan’s men tomorrow. Should they lose then Garstang will move above them if they get the better of Great Eccleston at Hall Lane.

Longridge bowler Ian Simpson believes the clash against F&B is the type of match everyone at the clubwill relish.

“There could be easier final games,” Simpson acknowledged. “It is what is but we’ve had a tie and a win against them over the last couple of years.

“They are a good team, and we know we are a good team, but these are the kind of matches you want to play in.

“You play cricket for games like this; good, competitive cricket where there is something on the line.

“This is crunch time. We want to finish in the top two and go into the tier one competition in the next stage, so it’s set up nicely for a good day.”

Garstang CC skipper Mark Walling wants his players to focus on the job in hand.

“It’s going to be a good game against Great Eccleston,” Walling said.

“We just have to win and see where that takes us; if Fulwood win and we do, then I think we qualify, but if we win and Longridge win, then it’s down to runs and wickets.

“Fulwood and Broughton are considerably ahead in that respect but there isn’t much between Longridge and ourselves.

“We have got to make sure we win and, if we win convincingly, then that helps us even more.

“Hopefully we will get the win and then results elsewhere work out for us.”

The top two from the initial four groups will then be split into two separate groups, as will be the case with the sides in third and fourth.

There will be three more games, after which the top two in those new groups will play semi-finals before a final on September 19.

There will also be a group for the fifth and sixth-placed sides – where relevant – with four matches over five weeks up to September 19.

Consequently, whatever the result on Saturday, Garstang and Longridge’s players will be in action for a few more weeks just yet, although only one of of them will have a chance of winning some silverware.

Meanwhile, Leyland captain David Makinson admits his men have one foot in the next stage.

The men from Fox Lane sit top of Group C heading into the final round of round-robin matches this weekend.

The top two in the group will go through to the next stage and Leyland are currently in the box seat.

Their victory over Penwortham at the weekend means they are two points clear of second-placed Chorley, while Eccleston are in third four points adrift. With Leyland boasting a superior net run rate than Eccleston, it will take an unusual set of results for them to drop out of the top two.

But Makinson wants to see his men avoid any confusion by winning handsomely against Euxton at Fox Lane to ensure they top the group.

“It looks unlikely now that we won’t go through,” said Makinson, whose men are also hoping to win the T20 competition having opened up with a win on Sunday over Euxton.

“I think we are virtually qualified now. Chorley could overtake us if we lose and they win on Saturday.

“If Eccleston were to win, they could draw level on points with us but I think our run rate is far superior to everbody else.

“So even if we were to lose against Euxton, we should go through unless we lost ridiculously heavily and Eccleston were to win really easily.

“I think we should be okay but we want to win the group and finish top.”

Leyland were far too strong for Penwortham at the weekend – dismissing their Palace Shield opponents for a paltry 67.

In reply, they raced to victory with Kurtis Watson smashing 44 off 41 balls – a knock which included two sixes and eight fours.

“Kurtis just took advantage of some loose bowling and put them away,” said Makinson.

“It’s not the biggest boundary at Penwortham, it’s quite a small ground isn’t it?

“But he was striking the ball well – he’s a good player.”

Although Watson may have stole the headlines, Makinson insisted that there have been plenty of his men who have stepped up to the plate since cricket got the go-ahead to start.

“We are playing really well at the moment,” said Makinson.

“A lot of people are contributing – we’ve had six or seven bowlers all contributing and after Sunday’s T20 game, you could say we’ve had six or seven batsmen who have all stepped up so it’s all good.”

Chorley are at home to Vernon Carus this weekend while Eccleston welcome Penwortham to Doctors Lane.