Longridge stay on the knockout trail
Longridge continue on their National Knockout adventure this weekend when they host Bamford Fieldhouse at Chipping Road in the last 16 of the competition.
The Moore and Smalley Palace Shield outfit have defied the odds to get this far, beating Morecambe, Chorley and Leyland from the Northern League, as well as Bolton League side Eagley.
Northern League leaders Leyland were beaten last week at the regional final stage, the tournament now opening up to its national stage.
Sunday’s opponents Bamford Fieldhouse are from the Greater Manchester Cricket League – they sit third in Division One.
Longridge skipper Kyle Helm believes a good team spirit, built on strong local links, has played its part in carrying the side this far.
Helm said: “Ten of the 11 players all played junior cricket at Longridge. The exception was James Whitehead, who joined us from Freckleton.
“It is quite a young side – I’m the second oldest at 28 and the rest are 24 and under.
“Availability has been massive, a lot of clubs struggle to get players out there every Saturday and Sunday.
“We have only had two Sundays off this season but our selection has been consistent, the players have always been available to play.
“It has been a good run in the National Knockout and hopefully we can go further.
“Last week at Leyland, we bowled them out for 115 and chased that target very well.
“Now we play Bamford Fieldhouse. We have heard quite a bit about them – either they are getting 300 or are bowled out for about 110.”
Five Longridge players took wickets in their victory over Leyland – Rory McDowell taking three, Ian Simpson and Matt Greenall two each, while Alex Mason and Tom Howarth collected one apiece.
They knocked off their target in 34 overs, Luke Platt and Whitehead unbeaten on and 48 respectively.
Before Longridge can turn their attention to the National Knockout, they are in league action on Saturday.
Helm’s men are at home to bottom club Fylde as the Palace Shield season goes into its second half.
“Saturday’s games are the reverse of the opening day of the season,” said Helm.
“Fylde have been struggling but they lost quite a few players from last season.
“We are fourth in the league and want to challenge for the title, so it is important we are focused and get the job done.”
The side to catch in the Premier Division is Vernon Carus, the Factory Lane outfit holding a 13-point lead at the summit.
Vernons make the trip to Guild Park tomorrow to face Whittingham and Goosnargh.
In the Northern League, Preston host Leyland at West Cliff, while Chorley have a home date with Kendal.
Lancaster visit Netherfield, while Morecambe are also in Cumbria, at Penrith.
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Blackpool v Darwen, Chorley v Kendal, Fleetwood v Barrow, Netherfield v Lancaster, Penrith v Morecambe, Preston v Leyland.
PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Croston v Penwortham, Freckleton v Torrisholme, Garstang v Thornton Cleveleys, Great Eccleston v Fulwood and Broughton, Longridge v Fylde, Whittingham and Goosnargh v Vernon Carus