​Defending champions Garstang are back in contention for the Northern Premier League title

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​Garstang are on course for a remarkable defence of their Northern Premier League title.

​After the current top three Chorley, Kendal and Longridge pulled away last month, many good judges were suggesting this year’s title fight was a three-horse race.

However, that no longer appears to be the case with the chasing pack closing the gap.

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Leading the chase are fourth-placed Blackpool and reigning champions Garstang, who have moved to fifth.

Danny Gilbert bowling for GarstangDanny Gilbert bowling for Garstang
Danny Gilbert bowling for Garstang

Just 14 points separate the top five sides now and the Riversiders’ skipper Danny Gilbert insists defending the title is very much on for his side.

After a slow start, they have picked four wins out of their past five in the league.

Their move up the table is all the more astounding considering they have no professional in their ranks.

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The club has signed an overseas amateur in the shape of Luke Smith, who is proving to be a great addition, but the amateurs such as bowler Ian Walling and batsman Mark Walling in particular have stepped up to the plate.

Gilbert said: “We have fought back well since the start of the season.

"We have sort of got used to playing without a professional and played some really good cricket over the last month or so.

"We have beaten Kendal and Longridge who were top of the league when we played them.

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"So we have got ourselves right back into it going into the second half of the season.”

Last year, Garstang had Indian pro Punit Bisht in their ranks and he proved himself over a number of years to be arguably the best in the league.

He moved on to Lancashire League champions Darwen for this season and his replacement, fellow Indian Snehal Kauthankar was unable to travel to the UK due to paperwork issues.

"Without having a professional, I think it’s just been people taking responsibility,” said Gilbert.

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"The majority of people have done that – we can’t just rely on one superstar to do all the work for us essentially.”

This weekend, Garstang travel to lowly Netherfield and Gilbert said: “They are down at the bottom end but are a very dangerous team.”


​​Northern League: Eccleston v Penrith, Fleetwood v Blackpool, Fulwood & Broughton v Chorley, Leyland v St Annes, Longridge v Kendal, Netherfield v Garstang.

Palace Shield: Euxton v Carnforth, Kirkham & Wesham v Torrisholme, Lancaster v Great Eccleston, Penwortham v Mawdesley, Preston v Thornton Cleveleys, Vernon Carus v Morecambe.