Shield title quest is an open chase

Luke Platt
Luke Platt
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Longridge chairman Tom Haworth reckons that the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title chase is an open race this season.

There looks to be plenty of depth in the top flight, with defending champions Vernon Carus still the side to beat.

Vernons top the table after the opening five games, but Great Eccleston, Fulwood and Broughton, Garstang and Longridge are all tucked in just behind them.

Then come Meyler Cup holders Freckleton and last year’s league runners-up Penwortham.

Haworth told the Evening Post: “I think the division is wide open this season.

“Obviously, Vernon Carus are top again and they are a very well organised side.

“But you look through the other teams in the league and there are some very talented players.

“What has been behind the success of Vernons is their organisation and know-how.

“They beat us the other week, scoring just over 200 and we got 160.

“In that game they were something like 60-2 after 20 overs and struggling a bit.

“But they got to 200 with some sensible, impressive play.

“They didn’t take risks, they preserved wickets and went on to score 90 from the last 10 overs.

“That is experienced, good cricket in my book, they had the know-how to do that.”

Haworth is pleased with the start made by Longridge in the Premier Division, so too their other teams.

“We will have five teams playing tomorrow despite having 15 players unavailable, so that shows the strength of the membership here,” said Haworth.

“The first XI have started well, winning three of the four games played – we lost one to the weather.

“Our second team are top of the First Division, the third are struggling a bit after stepping up a division.

“The fourth team have won four out of four, and the fifth XI are top of the Fylde League.

“In our first team, Luke Platt has been playing particularly well at No.5

“He has done a good job when coming in after we have lost early wickets.

“Luke plays his shots and has a positive approach. Last week he hit 33 before being run out unluckily.

“John Simpson has had a couple of good knocks, so have Daniel Wilkinson and Joshua McDowell.

“The club as a whole is a strong one with many players from the area.

“When you look at the first XI, many of them have come through the junior teams.

“What is benefiting us is having three teams playing in the top three divisions of the Palace Shield.”

Longridge are away to Withnell Fold tomorrow in the Premier Division, their hosts still finding their feet at this level after promotion.

Vernon Carus go to Riverside to tackle BAC/EE Preston, while Fulwood and Broughton make the trip to Fylde. Garstang host Penwortham.

Tomorrow’s fixtures

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Blackpool v Kendal, Darwen v Preston, Fleetwood v Barrow, Lancaster v St Annes, Leyland v Morecambe, Penrith v Chorley. Sunday – Chorley v Blackpool (ECB National Club Knockout competition)

PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Preston v Vernon Carus, Fylde v Fulwood and Broughton, Garstang v Penwortham, Great Eccleston v Whittingham and Goosnargh, Thornton Cleveleys v Freckleton, Withnell Fold v Longridge.