Much-changed Morecambe knocked out by Fleetwood

Viraj Bhatia goes big at the top of the order for Morecambe. Picture: Tony North
Viraj Bhatia goes big at the top of the order for Morecambe. Picture: Tony North
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A much-changed Morecambe side exited the Lancashire Cup with defeat to Northern League high-fliers Fleetwood on Sunday.

After a strong start from captain Josh Dixon (42) and Viraj Bhatia (60) the visitors’ innings tailed off and they were restricted to 185-7 batting first.

Morecambe battled hard in the field, but Dean Bell (63) and Travis Dean’s (70) impressive stand at the top of the innings set up a three-wicket win with 10 balls to spare despite four wickets for second XI skipper Irfan Qaauuym.

Unable to field a sub professional due to competition rules Morecambe saw Dixon and Bhatia add 50 in good time at the top of the order.

With the field spread the score moved forward as both Dixon and Bhatia traded maximums to bring up the 100 partnership in the 26th over.

Morecambe were motoring forward and when Bhatia passed his 50 a big score looked on the cards but his demise saw the scoring rate slow.

Jake Smith (34) joined his skipper and enjoying his promotion, looked to rotate the strike.

But Dixon was caught in two minds as the run rate dropped and could only give a return catch to James Wilson as he departed for a well-made 42.

Lewis Edge (18) played positively alongside Smith however but his attacking approach brought about his demise.

From then on in Fleetwood bowled tightly restricting Morecambe’s ability to find the boundary as they finished on 185-7 probably around 20 to 30 runs short of where they would have liked to have been.

The Fleetwood reply flew out of the blocks as both professional Dean and his partner Bell latched onto anything short.

The pair continued to play positively, Tommy Clough unlucky not to dismiss Dean as a tough chance burst through the hands of Steven Fisher.

Izair Ullah and Smith clawed Morecambe back into it with Ullah’s nine-over spell of 0-23 a masterclass in tight, accurate bowling.

Another bowling change brought the game to life as Qaauuym continued the good work of Ullah before trapping Bell in front for a well-made 63.

Tom Wilson (0) came and went thanks to Smith and despite a few lusty blows both Michael Moore (21) and Adam Sharrocks (13) were to go before the close of play.

Fleetwood however were itching closer and professional Dean was still there.

Jamie Cassidy returned after a difficult opening spell to claim a couple of wickets but with just 12 needed from 24 balls Dean looked to be in a hurry as he pumped Qaauuym back over his head for a maximum.

However it was the Morecambe man who had something to smile about as the very next ball Dean could only find Dixon at mid off with the captain taking a fine one-handed catch.

The game was still on and Morecambe’s aim was to take it as deep as possible but with just two required from the penultimate over Clough was guided through backward point and Fleetwood got home by three wickets.