A WEEKEND double header which is set to be the key to Netherfield's season is looming.

And skipper Ben Barrow has confirmed that he is under no illusions as to the importance of a testing twin challenge which sees his side host champions Blackpool in a league game on Saturday followed 24 hours later by the eagerly awaited Lancashire KO Cup semi-final against Norden.

"The Blackpool game is a vital one because if we lose it is going to be very difficult for us to stay in the title race," said the Parkside Road captain.

"We really need to win it and we know how important the game is."

And looking ahead to Sunday, Barrow said he expected another tough challenge as both sides bid for a place in the final on September 8 against the winners of the other last four clash which sees Horwich take on Darwen.

"We played Norden about three years ago and we know they are a good side," said Barrow.

"They have a good professional and a couple of very good amateurs, and we understand a supporters' bus will be coming up so it should be a great atmosphere."

That professional is Jake Sandham, a lively opening bowler and top order batsman born and bred in the Manchester area who will be familiar to cricket fans in this area as he has made a number of appearances for the Cumberland side in Minor Counties games.

Norden, who can count the late Hansi Cronje, former captain of South Africa, among their ex-professionals, joined the newly expanded Lancashire League last season.

They did well enough to earn a spot in the top tier when the 24 team competition split at the end of last term, and this season, they have continued to make an impact and currently lie fourth in the table.

Netherfield's New Zealand professional Bevan Small is allowed to play, but due to competition rules, Australian overseas amateur Joel Blain is not eligible for selection.

However, Barrow said the rest of the squad were all available and there were no injury problems in the camp ahead of the twin weekend showdown.

And he hopes Netherfield will return to form after that shock home defeat by lowly Chorley in the last home game, which was followed by last Saturday's washed out game at Garstang.

To his credit, Barrow offered no excuses for the Chorley defeat, when an uncharacteristically poor batting display saw them shot out for just 121, he and pledged every effort would be made by his side to return to winning ways.

"The wicket was good all through the game and while we shouldn't take anything away from Chorley who bowled and fielded well, we played some poor shots after a good start," he said.

"Even then, another wicket at vital times would have made it very close but we didn't quite get on top."

That reverse has increased the onus on the Parkside Road men to get a result against Saturday's opponents Blackpool, who have been unable to repeat last season's title winning form and currently sit in a modest mid-table spot.

However, they remain a formidable outfit and will be skippered as ever by the experienced Paul Danson with Cumberland's former Barrow batsman Sam Dutton also in the ranks.

Both the weekend games start at 1pm.