Four-way battle for Shield

Ian Dunn hit 78 for Vernon Carus ' but it was in vain
Ian Dunn hit 78 for Vernon Carus ' but it was in vain
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A surprise defeat for leaders Vernon Carus at Thornton Cleveleys has blown the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title race wide open.

Vernons’ visit to Illwalla saw them beaten by 38 runs – only their second league loss of the summer.

Great Eccleston, Longridge and Garstang all won to close the gap, and an exciting climax to the season is on the cards with four games remaining.

Thornton were asked to bat first by Vernons, a decision which was to favour the hosts.

They put 223-5 on the board, led by Jon Eade’s 74 which included 13 boundaries, while Chris Cornall added an unbeaten 51.

Opener Ian Dunn led the visitors’ reply with a knock of 78 off 113 deliveries.

Christian Ash added 34 but the Thornton attack got on top to bowl out the visitors for 185.

Great Eccleston clinched a five-wicket win over Fulwood and Broughton at Hall Lane.

They limited F&B to 133-9, for who Matthew Rosebotom and Charlie Rossiter both scored 28. Richard White was the pick of the Great Ecc bowlers with a six-wicket haul.

Mohamed Nadeem shone with the bat to help the hosts to a successful chase, hitting an unbeaten 75.

The win saw Great Ecc close the gap on Vernons to three points, and Longridge are only six behind after victory against BAC/EE Preston.

Ian Simpson’s men won the Riverside clash by four wickets.

BAC/EE elected to bat first and were 176-6, Jonathon Hothersall in fine form with a knock of 90.

He was one of five victims for Tom Howarth, with skipper Simpson also taking a wicket.

Consistent scoring at the top of the order was the bedrock of Longridge’s reply.

Opening pair Oliver Pye and Joshua McDowell hit 42 and 41 respectively, with No.3 James Fairclough weighing in with an unbeaten 51.

Further down, Maxwell Nelson contributed 22 as Longridge put 180-6 on the board to claim victory.

Garstang beat Whittingham and Goosnargh by 68 runs, a knock of 47 from Michael Walling helping the hosts to a first innings tally of 182 all out.

In reply, the visitors were 114 all out, Ian Walling and Will Procter sharing eight wickets.

Fylde beat Penwortham by seven wickets, helped no end by a superb unbeaten 114 from Michael Watkinson.

There was a huge 147-run win for Freckleton over Withnell Fold.

James Whitehead hit 92, Joshua Holden 64 and Andrew Hogarth 61no.