The top two in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premeir Division meet this weekend as derby rivals Garstang host leaders Longridge at the Riverside.
he visitors are the only team in the division still yet to taste defeat this season, but skipper Kyle Helm believes his players will have to be at their best if they are to keep their unbeaten record intact tomorrow.
Garstang, who suffered their first league defeat of the campaign last weekend at reigning champions Fulwood and Broughton – are just five points behind in second place
“It wasn’t a massive surprise to see Garstang lose because Fulwood are a very strong side at home,” said Helm.
“We’ve played F&B this season but had home advantage which we always seem to do well with.
“And we seem to do very well against teams in and around us. Hopefully it’s the same this weekend at Garstang but we know it’s going to be a tough game, especially with them coming off the back of their defeat and looking to bounce back.
“But we’re used to winning at the moment and we don’t want that to stop.”
Garstang skipper Mark Walling has backed his players to bounce back from the disappointment of losing last weekend against Longridge.
“It wasn’t the greatest performance on Saturday after getting off to a good start and then having a collapse which meant we didn’t get enough runs,” Walling said.
“We saw off their opening bowlers but then their first and second change bowlers came on and bowled a lot tighter.
“Then, when we bowled, we bowled on both sides of the wicket and it’s hard enough to defend small totals at Fulwood as it is without doing that.
“It’s always a big game against Longridge and it’s bound to be a good game.
“We’re at home and, hopefully, that will come into play and favour us.”
The latest round of the ECB National Knockout competition takes place on Sunday with Longridge flying the flag for the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield.
They have the opportunity of reaching the last 32 of the competition when they take on North Lancashire and Cumbria Cricket League outfit Furness on Sunday.
Should Kyle Helm’s men win on Sunday, they will go through to the final game of the Lancashire section where they will either play Blackpool, of the Northern League, or Ormskirk – who also meet on Sunday at Stanley Park.
Longridge have a proud recent record in the competition – last year they reached the last 16 before bowing out to Bamford Fieldhouse.
Having yet to taste defeat this season, the men from Chipping Road will feel confident of further progression, although they will not be underestimating their opponents.
“Furness is another big game because we did quite well in that competition last year by getting to the last 16,” Helm (pictured right) said.
“The lads want to do the same again but we don’t know an awful lot about them. We know they beat Chorley so they can’t be mugs.”
Longridge’s National knockout commitments means their Meyler Cup tie away to Withnell Fold will have to be rescheduled.
However, the rest of the first-round games will take place.
Holders Garstang take on First Division opposition South Shore – who are riding high currently in third spot in the table after four wins from their first six league games – at Common Edge Road.
“South Shore are in the same league as our seconds,” said Garstang skipper Mark Walling.
“We should win that and hopefully we will be back on track with two wins this weekend.”
Meanwhile, in the Northern League, Leyland will be hoping to increase their lead at the top of the table tomorrow when they travel to Netherfield.
The Fox Lane outfit hit the summit last weekend after a Bank Holiday win double. However they will have to be at their best as Netherfield are fourth in the table just 10 poinst behind.
Chorley will hope to get back to winning ways when they visit St Annes.
Andrew Holdsworth’s men dropped from first to third after losing twice in three days last weekend.
Preston go in search of their second win of the season away to Barrow.
NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Barrow v Preston, Blackpool v Kendal, Lancaster v Penrith, Morecambe v Fleetwood, Netherfield v Leyland, St Annes v Chorley
MOORE AND SMALLEY PALACE SHIELD: Croston v Torrisholme, Freckleton v Rufford, Garstang v Longridge, Penwortham v F&B, Thornton Cleveleys v Great Eccleston, Vernon Carus v Eccleston.
MEYLER CUP ROUND ONE: (Sunday) F&B v Freckleton, Torrisholme v Rufford, Thornton Cleveleys v Fylde, Penworthan v Great Eccleston, Vernon Carus v Norcross, South Shore v Garstang, New Longton v Croston