Old rivals set for derby encounter

Martin Hewitt
Martin Hewitt
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It’s derby day in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division tomorrow as Penwortham face deadly rivals Vernon Carus at Middleforth Green.

The match is sure to be a hotly-contested affair between two clubs, who are situated just a stone’s throw from one another.

But unlike previous seasons, it could be argued that not too much rests on the outcome of the match – barring bragging rights of course.

In recent times when Pen and Vernons clash, the league title has been at stake for both clubs, but the story this summer is very different.

Reigning champion Vernons – who have been crowned champions five times out of the last six – have struggled this year.

They are firmly in mid-table and are well out of the title race with nine games to go – a whopping 48 points behind current leaders Great Eccleston.

Penwortham – who are the only team to break Vernons’ stranglehold on the title over the past six seasons when they claimed the league and cup double in 2011 – have fared better, but find themselves in fifth spot in the table – 26 points off the top.

Martin Hewitt’s men will still fancy themselves to force their way into the title reckoning, but with four teams above them in the table, it’s going to be a tall order.

Another game which catches the eye this weekend is Great Ecc’s visit to third-placed Freckleton.

Just seven points separate the two teams and there is abig possibility that the home side could find themselves at the top of the pile come tomorrow evening.

However, second placed Garstang are primed to take advantage of any slip-up by the leaders when they travel to lowly Croston.

The newly-promoted outfit are in the relegation zone – just three points ahead of bottom side BAC/EE Preston.

They have only won one game all season and Garstang look in ominous mood at the moment after closing the gap at the top to just three points last weekend.

They beat Thornton Cleveleys, while Great Ecc were thwarted by the weather against Hoghton.

Garstang captain Ian Walling said: “We’re playing clever cricket, we’re getting a platform and that is big help for us.

“We’re still behind Great Eccleston and I think it will go down to the big games. But it was helpful to close the gap last week.”

Meanwhile, in the Northern League First Division, Chorley will look to keep their title aspirations alive when they host reigning champions Blackpool at Windsor Park.

Andrew Holdsworth’s men are in fourth spot in the table – 13 points behind leaders Fleetwood, who are just a point ahead of Morecambe.

Leyland visit Lancaster and Preston will bid to end their winless run when they travel to Barrow.

Tomorrow’s fixtures

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Barrow v Preston, Chorley v Blackpool, Kendal v Darwen, Lancaster v Leyland, penrith v Netherfield, St Annes v Morecambe.

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Croston v Garstang, Freckleton v Great Eccleston, Fylde v Fulwood and Broughton, Hoghton v Longridge, Penwortham v Vernon Carus, Thornton v BAC/EE Preston