Netherfield miss out on Readers Cup final after controversial defeat to Blackpool (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Netherfield miss out on Readers Cup final after controversial defeat to Blackpool
Blackpool won by two wickets
NETHERFIELD were controversially denied a place in the Readers Cup final after being penalised six runs for a slow over rate, allowing Blackpool to sneak over the line in dramatic fashion.
The home side’s top-order fired as the Parkside Road club posted 228-3 from their 40-over allocation, with John Huck adding gloss to earlier contributions with a powerful half-century.
Lancashire pair Steven Croft and Liam Livingstone led the visitors’ reply, although a late collapse maintained Netherfield’s interest until the run penalty proved decisive.
After being invited to bat first, the hosts’ opening pair of Ben Barrow and Marc Brown once again started positively and laid the foundations for the remainder of the innings.
The duo had moved the Netherfield score onto 96 at the halfway stage, with Brown bringing up his half-century an over later with a four through backward point.
Barrow followed suit in the 23rd over, taking a quick single off the leg-break bowling of sub professional Livingstone following a firm push into the covers.
The openers looked solid and largely untroubled until Barrow was bowled by Danny Gilbert for 59 in the 26th over with the score on 130.
And former Freckleton seamer Gilbert repeated the feat in his next over, as skipper Brown walked for a fluent 68 after chopping on.
With ten overs remaining, Netherfield were well set on 151-2 with South African professional Colin Ackermann and big-hitting Huck at the crease.
Huck is a dangerous customer and proved his worth towards the end of an innings with some lusty blows all around the ground.
With very little back-lift, he dispatched Gilbert for a huge six over mid-wicket before sending the off-break bowling of Croft the same way.
Ben Eckton was the next to feel the full force of the wicketkeeper’s brutality, with a lofted straight drive clearing the long-off boundary.
Ackermann brought up the 200 with a reverse sweep off Croft before a further Huck maximum over mid-wicket preceded a well-executed scoop for four.
With three balls remaining, Ackermann was trapped lbw for 32 by left-arm seamer Stephen Twist as Netherfield posted 228-3.
Gilbert returned figures of 2-45 from eight overs, as Croft received some punishment, conceding 52 from his allocation with no wickets to show for his endeavours.
In reply, Blackpool started watchfully with Stuart Nixon and Scott Clement bowling tight opening spells for the home side, with the latter making an early breakthrough.
Clement snared John Mounsey caught and bowled for only five, with Livingstone – who hit 149 for Lancashire’s 2nd XI earlier this month – joining Croft at the crease.
And after Croft had deposited Clement over the mid-wicket boundary ropes, the 20-year-old all-rounder came to fore to gift some real momentum to the Blackpool response.
Livingstone hit left-arm paceman Brad Airey for successive fours to bring up the Seasiders’ 50 in the 12th over, before smashing three sixes from Ackermann’s first over.
The pair ensured Blackpool reached 123-1 at the halfway stage and were up with the required rate, before Nixon had his man with the final delivery of the 22nd over.
Livingstone fell for 76, edging behind to Huck, as Croft and Twist manoeuvred the visitors into a strong position at 157-2 with ten overs remaining.
Ackermann bowled Twist for 18 with Alex Smith and wicketkeeper Craig Brown falling cheaply as Netherfield sensed what appeared an unlikely victory at one stage.
After surviving a dropped catch while on 76, dangerman Croft became Ackermann’s third victim in the 37th over and departed for 84.
The pendulum was starting to swing in Netherfield’s favour after Clement had Andy Furniss caught on the long-on boundary before Barrow’s sharp fielding on the cover boundary ran out Steven Mercer.
The game boiled down to Blackpool requiring eight runs to win from the final over with two wickets remaining, with skipper Paul Danson and Gilbert at the crease.
However, there was a twist in the tail as controversy ruled, the umpires granting Blackpool an additional six runs due to an alleged slow over-rate.
This meant the scores were tied with the visitors requiring one run from six balls, although the contest with finished in two as Gilbert stole a single through extra-cover.
Ackermann returned figures of 3-58 from eight overs, as Clement and Nixon proved economical with 2-36 and 2-21 respectively.
Blackpool now face Leyland in this week’s final while Netherfield are left to lick their wounds with an away fixture at Chorley beckoning on Saturday.
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