Annes and defending champions Leyland continued to match one another stride for stride in the race for the championship in the Furness Building Society Northern Premier Cricket League (incorporating Readers Cricket Balls).
After both sides recorded 12-pt wins batting second on Saturday St Annes and Leyland both earned maximum 15-pts from wins batting first on Sunday.
St Annes defeated Barrow in a low-scoring game at Ernest Pass while Leyland broke down late Darwen resistance at Fox Lane. As a result St Annes (played 19-191pts) lead Leyland (18-178) by 13 points with Netherfield (19-173) in third. Chris Parry's side wrapped up their second 15-pt win of the weekend after defeating Morecambe. Chorley (18-160) also enjoyed two victories over the weekend and followed up their thrilling win at Lancaster with a more straightforward defeat of Carnforth. Blackpool (18-147) are fifth after defeating Lancashire Colts with Morecambe (18-143) in sixth.
Atiq Uz-Zaman and pro Dinuka Hettiarachchi were again St Annes' match-winners as they won at Barrow. Atiq scored 55 off 103 balls to provide the backbone of his side's 157, adding 66 for the first wicket with Nanthesh Kiruparan. Neil Bradley made valuable late-order runs, hitting 26 and nursing the tail to add 43 for the last two wickets.
Barrow's South African pro Pieter Malan took 6/40 from 15 overs and then became the first player in the league this season to pass the 1,000 runs mark. But when he had made 17 Malan was trapped lbw by Hettiarachchi. The Sri Lankan spin ace went on to take 6/32, including five leg-before decisions as Barrow were bowled out for 115. Guy Heffernan (31), Daryl Wearing (23) and skipper Chris D'Leny (23 not out) all fought hard but Matt Grindley backed up his pro with a spell of 3/19.
Luis Reece (93) and Henry Thompson (70) posted 154 for Leyland's first wicket against Darwen at Fox Lane and provided the impetus for David Makinson to declare on 257/4 after 49 overs. Lancashire Academy member Thompson, who recently made his Second XI Championship debut for Lancashire, hit his runs off only 72 balls with ten fours and one six before he was caught by Chris Wade in the deep off Darwen captain John Cordingley. Reece looked set for a hundred until he spooned up a catch to Darwen pro Mohammad Zaman Khan off Cordingley after also hitting ten fours and one six. Wes Royle (38) and pro Brett Pelser (30) built upon the fine start.
Darwen made a disastrous start, losing their first three wickets with just two runs on the board as Reece and Pelser bowled impressively. John Cordingley made a fluent 43 off 35 balls until he was adjudged lbw to Pelser as Darwen subsided to 100/7. But Gareth Cordingley batted superbly to hit an unbeaten 79 off 98 balls and Sam Chatburn-Jones and Chris Wade helped him make life anxious for the defending champions. Just 19 balls remained when Wade was leg before to Pelser as Darwen finished 185 all out, Pelser claiming 4/40.
Netherfield's Nathan Chambers put the skids under Morecambe at Parkside road, taking the wickets of Ikram Ullah, pro Anwar Ali and Lewis Edge in his first over. Morecambe skipper Mark Woodhead was also forced to retire hurt with a wrist injury sustained while fielding. After Danny Welbourne (41) and Ullah (37) had added 61 Morecambe subsided to 123 all out, pro Ben Laughlin also claiming three wickets.
Earlier Reg Cupit took 7/57 off 16.3 overs to help bowl out the home side for 189. Medium-pacer Cupit bowled with accuracy and menace on what appeared to be a fine batting pitch in a memorable display. John Mason top-scored for Netherfield with 35.
Opener Jack Catterall hit 56 to help Chorley defeat Carnforh by five wickets at Windsor Park. Skipper Andy Holdsworth made 35 and Iain Critchley 24 in support of Catterall's fine display despite Dickon Morris taking 3/49. Earlier Carnforth made 156/8 with opener Ryan Nelson (36), pro Gareth Pedder (34) and Tom Barnfield (33) the main contributors, pro Gaurav Dhar taking 3/41.
Ben Simm took his second Northern League hat-trick but Lancaster had to settle for a losing draw at Broadwater. Off-spinner Simm again bowled unchanged to take 6/86 in Fleetwood's 177/8, taking the wickets of pro Ryan Smith, skipper Mat Clark and Scott Richardson in successive balls in his last over. Smith was stumped by Damian Gudgeon while Charlie Swarbrick snapped up the next two batsmen with catches at mid-off. Adam Parker made 66 off 104 balls for Fleetwood.
Fleetwood pro Smith then took 5/96 off 25 overs but Lancaster salvaged a draw, closing on 160/9, pro Dwayne Hees the top-scorer with 36 and David Heywood 32.
Lukman Vahaluwala continued his fine bowling form with a spell of 6/33 in his side's two wickets win over Kendal at West Cliff. The Preston captain was backed up by pro Saeed Bariwala who took 3/17 as Kendal were dismissed for 108, Terry Hunte top-scoring with 36. Kendal skipper Chris Miller went on to take 5/27 but Preston, who collapsed to 26/5 saw Bariwala and Hiten Modessa add 42 in a crucial sixth wicket stand.
Modessa went on to make a match-winning 39 as Preston edged home.
Blackpool had a nerve-wracking win by two wickets against Lancashire Colts at Stanley Park. Rob Jones hit 43 in the Colts' 190/8, Leyland's Liam Hurt hitting 27 off 12 balls late in the innings including three fours and two sixes. Andy Furniss made 43 and pro Con De Lange 37 in Blackpool's reply, which was helped by 35 extras including 22 byes; Chris Benbow taking 3/38 and Hurt 2/29.
In Division Two Leyland (17-205) lead Chorley (17-185) by 20 points with Blackpool (17-169) in third. Leyland had to settle for a winning draw at Darwen while Chorley won bating second at Carnforth. Blackpool had no game. More details to follow.