Tom’s men aim to end Long title wait

Longridge skipper Ian Simpson is hoping to lead  'his side to the Palace Shield title

Longridge skipper Ian Simpson is hoping to lead 'his side to the Palace Shield title

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Longridge are determined to fight to the death tomorrow as the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title race reaches its climax.

Only Ian Simpson’s men can prevent reigning champions and current leaders Vernon Carus from winning their sixth championship in eight years.

The Chipping Road outfit, who are six points behind Vernons, must beat third-placed Great Eccleston at Hall Road on the final day of the season – and hope Paul Chapman Jr’s men lose.

In a further twist to the tale, Vernons’ last match of the season is away to fierce derby rivals Penwortham.

Longridge chairman Tom Haworth admits his club requires a massive favour from Jack Aspden’s men if they are to lift the title for the first time since 2004.

Penwortham are the only club to break Vernons’ stranglehold on the Shield in the past five years.

And although they have endured a difficult campaign this time around, Haworth believes they are capable of upsetting the odds at Middleforth Green tomorrow.

“Traditionally, Penwortham against Vernons is a big derby match,” Haworth said.

“I think the two clubs are less than a mile apart so obviously there’s a great rivalry there.

“We have to beat Great Eccleston – that’s the top and bottom of it – but if we lose, Vernons will be champions no matter what.

“We are in a position where we need to win and are relying on somebody else – in the shape of Penwortham – to help us out.

“Whether Penwortham are quite at that level at the moment remains to be seen.

“But they still have some very good players and one or two individuals who could upset the applecart and do us a favour.”

While Longridge will have more than a passing interest on the events unfolding at Middleforth Green, they must concentrate on beating Great Ecc, who until last weekend, were still firmly in the title hunt.

However, they lost to Vernons from a good position and missed the chance of going top heading into the final weekend of the season.

“It is a huge game against Great Ecc who are a very good side,” said Haworth, whose grandson Tom Howarth will be lining up for Longridge tomorrow.

“It looked like they were going to topple Vernons last weekend. They were 90-2 and coasting but then collapsed and ended up losing the game.

“If they had of won, it would have put them top and us second going into the final game, so it would have been like a final tomorrow.

“But it wasn’t to be and Vernons are still there.

“Whatever happens, it’s going to be a great finish to the season.

“Our lads have worked very hard all season to get in this position and I just want them to go out and enjoy themselves tomorrow.”