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Northern League: Title party breaks out at Birch Hall
7:42am Monday 9th September 2013 in Sport
A CHAMPIONSHIP party broke out at Birch Hall on Saturday night – but it was hosts Darwen who took on the roll of wallflowers as classy Leyland came to the fore and their win over the Towers saw them pip Barrow to the Chorley Building Society Northern League title.
Darwen were powerless to prevent Leyland storming to a big win – and the visitors shone after their destiny was placed in their own hands after Barrow’s gallant bid for victory in the rain at Blackpool was counted for nothing as the weather had the final say at Stanley Park.
Barrow went into the final day two points clear and knew if they claimed a 15-point win they would be champions no matter what happened at Birch Hall.
And in a game reduced to 31 overs, they gave it one heck of a rattle with Rishton’s Daniel Salpietro smashing 95 to allow his temporary side to declare on 158-2 from just 23 overs.
But the rain became too much nine overs into the Blackpool reply and the match was abandoned meaning Leyland knew they were in the box seat.
Solid batting had seen Leyland declare on 201-6 with Neil Cordingley claiming three wickets and professional Alan Kruger bagging a brace to take his seasonal tally to 48.
Jordan Clarke went cheaply as Darwen replied but Ammer Mirza was fluent as he passed 500 league runs in his first season at Birch Hall but when he was caught by Luis Reece off the bowling of Dale Jones the rot set in for the locals.
Mirza's departure saw Darwen slip to 39-2 but the middle order was wiped out by Jones who claimed 5-24 and it took a breezy 20 from Neil Cordingley to get the locals up to 85 all out as Leyland cracked open the bubbly.
Chorley continued their fine form as they crushed deposed champions Fleetwood at Windsor Park to round off their season on a high.
The day started well for Andy Holdsworth's men when Billy Smith struck with the third ball of the match as he pinned Mike Clinning leg before and Fleetwood never really recovered as they crashed to 65 all out.
Smith finished with figures of 5-23 to leave himself as the joint top amateur bowler in the league, finishing level with Lancaster spinner Ben Simm on 40 wickets.
Chorley were in a hurry to get the game over and David Fisher's 32 not out saw them stroll home with seven wickets in hand in just the 16th over.
Simm claimed three wickets but that was in vain for Lancaster as his men, who have finished in third spot despite a host of off-field issues earlier in the season, were well beaten by St Annes.
Preston got the better of a draw at Netherfield, while Morecambe and Kendal managed just five deliveries before the rain washed their game away.
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