​Leyland still harbour Northern Premier League title aspirations

Skipper James Rounding believes his Leyland side are one of a handful of teams who can still force their way into the Northern Premier League title reckoning.
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​The opening couple of months of the season has seen the top three – Chorley, Kendal and Longridge – slightly break away from the rest.

They have all topped the table at some point or other and just one point separates them.

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A sizeable 25 points divides those three from fourth-placed Blackpool, who have a number of teams breathing down their necks – one of which is Leyland.

While accepting his men have plenty of work to do, Rounding sees no reason why Leyland cannot push towards the higher echelons of the division.

Leyland have lacked consistency so far, having won four and lost four of their nine league games but Rounding believes he has seen some encouraging signs in recent weeks.

Although they suffered a losing draw at Blackpool last weekend, previous to that they had won two on the spin.

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"I think this year is quite open,” said Rounding. “A lot is going to depend on which professionals go home early or the ones which stay.

"I feel like it will only take a couple of bad results from the top three and a couple of good results for the teams which are chasing to see that top three change.

"We had a very good, convincing win over St Annes on the opening day but then we suffered a few defeats.

"The last three games we have won a couple of them and drawn one so we are starting to look like we are beginning to play our best cricket.

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"It’s just taken us a bit of time to get going. We had high hopes at the start of the season which we still have got.

"The last few games have been more like what a Leyland team usually is.”

This weekend, Leyland host reigning champions Garstang who are one of the teams which are amongst the chasing pack.

Danny Gilbert’s men – who have been battling without a recognised professional – showed their quality last weekend by knocking Longridge off top sport.

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"The last couple of years, we have struggled a little bit against Garstang when they had Punit Bisht as their professional,” he said. "They have done well so far considering they haven’t got a professional.

"They are the reigning champions so it won’t be easy but we’re at home so we’ll try to make that count.”

NORTHERN PREMIER CRICKET LEAGUE: Eccleston v Blackpool, Fleetwood v Penrith, Fulwood & Broughton v Kendal, Leyland v Garstang, Longridge v Chorley, Netherfield v St Annes.

MOORE & SMALLEY PALACE SHIELD: Euxton v Great Eccleston, Kirkham & Wesham v Thornton Cleveleys, Lancaster v Carnforth, Penwortham v Morecambe, Preston v Torrisholme, Vernon Carus v Mawdesley.