Losing draw enough to keep Morecambe on top

Eddy Read bowling for Morecambe.
Eddy Read bowling for Morecambe.

Morecambe ensured they reached the half way stage of the Northern Premier League season as leaders of the division as they secured a losing draw away to 2014 champions Blackpool.

Morecambe closed their innings on 150-9 chasing Blackpool’s target of 177, Josh Dixon’s side coming frustratingly close to 12 precious points which would have extended their lead at the top of the division.

Blackpool skipper Paul Danson decided to bat first and his decision looked to have proved dividends when despite the loss of form man Matthew Houston (3) Blackpool, through former Morecambe professional Kelly Smuts, looked to take the attack to Morecambe.

Smuts raced into the 40s before taking one risk too many driving Eddy Read straight to Gert Maartens who took a smart catch a mid off.

Read was to follow up the wicket of Smuts with that of Richard Gleeson (0) who had his stumps firmly rearranged by the Morecambe paceman.

Blackpool youngster Tom Jefferson (40) was unperturbed however and when Josh Dixon looked to the experienced spin of Tommy Clough he looked to accelerate giving a couple of sharp chances which went down.

Randiv however did for Jefferson LBW who was combing well with the dangerous Steven Twist. It seemed Twist’s name was quite apt as the left hander was caught in a conundrum between stick and his namesake.

As he and Andrew Furniss began to look settled the pair attempted a quick single to midwicket where Morecambe skipper Dixon swooped and struck, removing Twist.

The reintroduction of Read proved pivotal as he and Randiv cleaned up the tail inside 48 overs, Read finishing with figures of 5-59 and Blackpool making 177.

Josh Dixon and young Lewis Smith opened the batting for Morecambe and looked in no real trouble early.

The pair took their side to 19 before Dixon was out to a Smuts delivery which stayed down a little. Randiv (7) took up the challenge, however he was to fall disappointingly caught at midwicket and at 36-2 Blackpool had their tails up.

Lewis Smith departed for a battling (15) but Ryan Pearson (31) combined with Lewis Edge (25) and the pair looked completely in control. Danson looked to change things and the introduction of Steven Mercer did the trick as the aggressive Edge was caught in two minds and was clean bowled.

At 85-4 Morecambe were still firmly in the driving seat however the demise of first Phil Dennison and then Pearson left Morecambe at 116-7 and starring firmly down the barrel. It then became 116-8 as Gleeson took a stunner off Smuts at second slip to remove Andy Bird.

It was left to Tommy Clough (13 not out) and Gert Maartens (21) to hold out and ensure Morecambe took points from the encounter. There was to be another twist when Maartens was caught behind with just two balls remaining leaving Michael Fisher to survive a close LBW shout to secure the losing draw.

Morecambe continue to sit top of the table after these results and will look to extend that lead at home to Netherfield on Saturday.