F&B edging ever closer to title glory

Mark Smith

Mark Smith

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Fulwood and Broughton could potentially have one hand on the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title after this weekend.

Mark Smith’s men lead the way at the top of the table – 11 points clear of nearest rivals Vernon Carus with just three games to go.

This weekend they face a stern test as third-placed Garstang – fresh from winning the Meyler Cup in last weekend’s final against Vernons – arrive at Highfield.

Mark Walling’s men still have an outside chance of winning the title and will be gunning for maximum points tomorrow.

Vernons face a difficult home encounter against reigning champions Great Eccleston and F&B skipper Smith believes this weekend will prove crucial in the destiny of the title.

“They have all been big games recently,” Smith said. “But this weekend is especially important.

“Garstang at home is a big game for us and Vernons have got Great Eccleston, so there’s potentially a chance of them not getting the full points.

“But I think Garstang still have a chance of winning the league – they will be full of confidence after winning the Meyler Cup last weekend.

“With Longridge in fourth, I think all of the top four still have a chance of finishing top because we all still have to play each other in one way or the other over the final three weeks.”

Although the title race appears set to go right down to the wire, Smith is well aware that wins for his men in each of their final three games will seal their first Championship success in 11 years.

Despite being on the cusp of a terrific achievement, Smith revealed the dressing room is a calm and relaxed place.

“It is very calm – we are just taking each week as it comes and not looking too far ahead.

“We have just been looking to keep crossing the weeks off one by one. It would be massive to win the league – 2005 is the last time we won it.

“It would be a great achievement because we are all players who have come through the junior ranks.

“I think there’s only one who hasn’t and he has been at the club for over 10 years.”

Smith – who was absent from his team’s thumping win over Fylde last weekend – admitted no matter what happens over the final few weeks, this season has created a real feel-good factor around the club.

“It’s been massively enjoyable,” he said. “You play cricket for enjoyment and the amount of people who have come down to watch us has been amazing.

“I have never seen as many people down at the club and they have followed us away. There’s a real buzz around the club.”

Meanwhile, in the Northern League, Leyland will hope to maintain their title challenge when they host derby rivals Chorley at home.