Club is looking to Pen a new chapter

Penwortham skipper Martin Hewitt

Penwortham skipper Martin Hewitt

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Penwortham’s new-look side have the chance to make their mark tomorrow when they take on deadly derby rivals Vernon Carus.

Martin Hewitt’s men face a severe test of of their character when they meet the reigning Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division champions at Factory Lane.

In past seasons, this fixture has had a huge bearing at the top of the table but this year is different as Penwortham currently reside in mid-table.

After losing a number of players over the winter, Penwortham’s squad has a much-changed look to it and it is certainly the dawn of a new era at Middleforth Green.

They have lost as many games as they have won in the league so far this year – which is a marked contrast to Vernons, who are many people’s favourites to lift the title for a third successive season.

Paul Champman Jr’s men are nicely placed in third spot in the table, although they did taste defeat for the first time this year last weekend.

They were beaten twice in successive days by new leaders Great Eccleston in the league and the Meyler Cup.

Those two defeats have given Penwortham – who won the league and cup double in 2011 – hope, although chairman Eddie Sidgreaves is not taking anything for granted.

“We are in a transitional phase this season,” he said.

“We have lost numerous key senior players from last season.

“Ryan Maddock’s gone to play in a higher league. Ashit Jariwala has gone to Great Eccleston and we have lost batsman Stuart Burton.

“Tomorrow will be interesting – we are playing Vernons at their place.

“The rivalry will still be there but it will be a great test of our character and our abilities.

“They lost twice last weekend, so they will be wanting to take it out on somebody – I just hope it’s not us.

“But it will be a good benchmark for us to see where we are at and what we need to do.”

To illustrate Penwortham’s plight they have had to call upon former skipper Wayne Maddock, who retired at the end of last year.

But Sidgreaves is confident his club have enough quality to avoid getting dragged into a relegation battle.

“Wayne’s playing under extreme circumstances. He’s just basically helping us out,” Sidgreaves said.

“We are always worried about relegation, but I believe the 
team is strong enough to maintain a position in the Premier Division.

“I see no reason why we shouldn’t maintain at least a mid-table spot.”

A minute’s silence will take place before every game in the Palace Shield this weekend as a tribute to league vice-president and former umpire Bob Mansfield, who passed away last week.

His funeral takes place today at St. Christophers Church, Blackpool Road, Lea, at 12.30pm.

Tomorrow’s fixtures

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Darwen v Blackpool, Fleetwood v Preston, Kendal v St Annes, Leyland v Netherfield, Morecambe v Barrow, Penrith v Lancaster, Chorley – no game.

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: BAC/EE Preston v Fylde, Freckleton v Garstang, Longridge v Great Eccleston, Thornton Cleveleys v Whittingham and Goosnargh, Vernon Carus v Penwortham, Withnell Fold v Fulwood and Broughton