"My men stepped up to the plate!" Penwortham captain Ashley Billington thrilled by win over leaders and wants to see his men back it up this weekend

Captain Ashley Billington rarely needs to conduct a motivational team talk whenever his Penwortham team come up against arch rivals and neighbours Vernon Carus.

Ashley Billington
Ashley Billington

But ahead of last weekend’s fixture, the Pen skipper saw fit to sit his men down and offer a few words of wisdom.

While the derby encounter between the two clubs who are separated by a railway track is always fiercely contested no matter what the situation is, this year’s first meeting between the pair had a little bit more riding on it .

In recent years, both clubs have been in the doldrums in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield, but not so this summer. Vernons have led the way at the top of the Premier Division for pretty much the entire campaign with Penwortham certainly in the mix of the chasing pack.

However, a win in the derby for Vernons would have seen Pen fall some way behind – something Billington was all too aware of. His little chat had the desired effect as Pen enjoyed a terrific win over their neighbours at Middleforth Green – throwing the title race wide open.

Pen are in fourth spot, just 10 points behind leaders Vernons with Barrow and Penrith sandwiched in between.

“In the changing room before the game, my team talk was pretty simple,” said Billington.

“Apart from the fact that it was the old enemy and you never need too much motivation for that, but I said to the lads, ‘What do you want to do? Win today and we can ruffle the feathers of the teams above us or we can step back into the pack below us’.

“Luckily the lads really responded and we got a really good win and we’ve been excellent these past couple of weeks.”

After such a big win, Billington does not want to see all that hard work go to waste but a trip to Thornton Cleveleys this weekend is no easy task.

He added: “If we have serious ambitions of being in the mix and having a sustained title challenge then we need to be winning games like this one.”

This weekend's fixtures

NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Chorley v Kendal, Fulwood and Broughton v Blackpool, Garstang v Leyland, Longridge v Fleetwood, Netherfield v Lancaster, St Annes v Morecambe.

MOORE AND SMALLEY PALACE SHIELD Premier DIVISION: Kirkham and Wesham v Fylde, Penrith v Great Eccleston, Preston v Eccleston, South Shore v Croston, Thornton Cleveleys v Penwortham, Vernon Carus v Barrow.