Lancaster braced for drop

Ben Simm bowling. Picture: Tony North.
Ben Simm bowling. Picture: Tony North.

A final-day victory wasn’t enough to prevent Lancaster finishing bottom of the Northern Premier League on Saturday.

The Lune Road men are now braced for demotion to the Palace Shield as per the link-up between the two competitions from this season.

It was tight at the bottom heading into the last round of games and Lancaster did their bit with an impressive four-wicket victory over high-flying St Annes.

Taking maximum points wasn’t enough though as fellow-strugglers Kendal were also victorious by the same margin at home to Preston and Barrow got the better of Morecambe.

Rain reduced the game to 31 overs as St Annes were put into bat first and were bowled out for just 71, Ben Simm (5-36) and Charlie Swarbrick (5-32) doing the damage.

Atiq Uz-Zaman (14) fell to Swarbrick LBW, while fellow-opener Gurman Bains managed 16 runs before being stumped by Scott Sparks off the bowling of Simm.

The same pair combined to get rid of Andy Drake (16), and from then on not one St Annes batsman managed to reach double figures.

Captain Nathan Armstrong (2) was bowled by Simm, Richard Staines (9) was caught by Reuben Orr, also off Simm, and Swarbrick got in on the act by bowling Tom Higson (0) and removing Paul Williams (0) LBW.

Matthew Derham (3) was caught by Laurie Atkinson off Simm, while Swabrick took care of Thomas Bradley (2) and Matthew Grindley (1) as St Annes’ batting folded.

In reply, Lancaster had just 28 overs to reach their revised target of 64, but they did so with four wickets to spare.

Laurie Atkinson managed a knock of 14 before being caught off the bowling of Grindley (3-16), while Lee Sparks (11) was caught off Matthew Yeadon (1-17).

Orr and Jamie Heywood both failed to score a single run, Higson (2-26) taking both wickets, and Simm fell to Grindley, but it didn’t stop Lancaster from claiming the victory.

The Lune Road side got over the line thanks to Brendan Hetherington (12 no) and Sandy Richards (0 no), but it wasn’t enough to avoid the drop.