St Annes' victory over Preston on Monday clinched the title for them as their 37-point advantage cannot now be overhauled. Congratulations to them on their first League title since 1996 and only their third overall after they won the initial championship in 1952, going through that season unbeaten. The fight for the other top four places continues as wins for all three of the chasing pack means that any one of them could yet clinch the runners-up spot with Netherfield, 21 points ahead of their nearest challengers, favourites to do so.
At Vernon Road Preston were bowled out for 129 with Shane Harwood taking his tally to 93 for the season with 4-42 and Michael Baer taking 3-51 as Mario Ventura made 45 and Lukman Vahaluwala 35. Preston subsided from 101-1 to their 129 all out. St Annes won comfortably by eight wickets making 132-2 with Adrian Darlington scoring 42, Gareth Evans 36 and Ian Austin 35 not out and Ventura was Preston's wicket-taker with 2-22.
At Broadwater Blackpool pulled out an unlikely win when they defeated Fleetwood by 30 runs. Batting first the visitors totalled 180 with Justin Kreusch making 62 and Tim Barry 47 as Steve Hill and Mahendra Nagamootoo both took three wickets, for 58 and 66 respectively. Fleetwood then reached 105-1 before Kreusch stepped in and took 8-52 as Fleetwood's last nine wickets surrendered for only 45 runs to leave them 150 all out.
Netherfield chased Kendal's 186 and won by seven wickets with 190-3. For Kendal Terry Hunte made 51, Ikram Ullah 43, 'Tony' Yasin 23 and Simon Little and Oliver Killiner both contributed 16 while Marc Hadwin had 3-64 and Pierre de Bruyn 3-27. But de Bruyn, 75, and Craig Walmsley, 71, effectively won the game for their side with a fine opening partnership and although they were dismissed along with Gareth White for 10, Netherfield lost no further wickets.
Darwen batted first at Birch Hall and with Keith Semple making 101 not out they made 195-4 as Billy Smith, 2-40, and Ian Critchley, 2-72, shared the wickets. Chorley were then bowled out for 85 to lose by 110 runs with Ian Critchley's 35 being the best effort, followed by 14 from Ghurav Dhar. Semple took 3-21, Gareth Cordingley 3-18 and Neil Cordingley 2-25.
Andrew Makinson top scored for Leyland Motors with 33 not out and Tom Reece made 26 as their side totalled 133-8 with Adam Parker taking 3-24 and Steve Pallett 2-43 for Leyland. David Makinson then took 4-14, Iqbal Liley 3-43 and Peter Cummings 2-27 as Leyland were bowled out for 102 to lose by 31 runs. Chris Parkinson top scored with 39 and then came Charlie Williams and Pallett, both with 15.
The 25 extras conceded by Morecambe made the best contribution to Lancaster's 112 all out at Lune Road as Luke Phillips came next with 20 as stand-in professional Charl Langeveldt took 4-56, Gareth Peddar 3-16 and Peter Stephens 2-24. Phil Dennison then led from the front with 66 and Tommy Clough made 23 not out as only Ian Burstow with 2-33 threatened Morecambe's dominance as they won by seven wickets.
Scores in brief (home sides in bold):
Darwen 195-4 (Semple 101*, Lowe 51), Chorley 85
Darwen 15 points, Chorley 0 points
Blackpool 180-7 (Kreusch 62, Barry 47), Fleetwood 150 (Wright 65, Clough 43, Kreusch 8-52)
Blackpool 15 points, Fleetwood 3 points
Lancaster 112 (Langeveldt 4-56), Morecambe 114-3 (Dennison 66)
Lancaster 0 points, Morecambe 12 points
Leyland Motors 133-8, Leyland 102 (Makinson D 4-14)
Leyland Motors 15 points, Leyland 2 points
Kendal 186 (Hunte 51, Ullah 43), Netherfield 190-3 (de Bruyn 75, Walmsley 71)
Kendal 3 points, Netherfield 12 points
Preston 129 (Ventura 45, Harwood 4-42), St Annes 132-2 (Darlington 42)
Preston 0 points, St Annes 12 points