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Park bid to turn back clock.

Byline: KEITH CHARLTON

WEST PARK hope history repeats itself when they face National League side Preston Grasshoppers in the Lancashire Cup final at Sedgley Park this afternoon.

They were in a similar position three seasons ago when they came from behind to beat National League Division Two side Manchester 33-22 and collect the county cup for the first time.

Preston have finished an erratic season in ninth place of League Three North after struggling in the relegation area for most of the season, and one man who will have to suffer the cup final tension on the touchline is West Park skipper Sean Fletcher.

His 20-year career looks over after he suffered a severe facial injury in the 50-13 North One home win over West Hartlepool in March.

The St Helens side will miss the inspirational 31 year -old, whose experience includes playing for Fylde,Waterloo and Sale before returning to his home town club.

But Sean is certain his team will still have the power and pace to upset the odds.

``We know the importance of the game,'' he says, ``but we haven't done anything out of the ordinary in training. Why change something that's worked well so far?

``Both teams are strong up front and have fast running backs but we believe that Sedgley Park's wide pitch will suit us.''

West Park were among the North One promotion challengers until injuries to key players led to some disappointing results, but they've ended the season well.

With other injuries ruling out the outstanding Steve Bibby and Elliott Laughton to name but two,West Park have named a young side - but Sean is confident they can do the job.

When experienced scrum-halfChris O'Toole left to join Preston earlier in the season, young Darren Wilson stepped in to take his chance.

And as Sean says: ``Darren has been one of the finds of the season while Liam McLoughlin, who took over as captain after I was injured, has done a great job.''

Besides facing O'Toole - whose try completed West Park's score against Manchester - West Park will also be opposing old boys Gary Monaghan and Paul Bailey who was the man of the match with 28 points in that game.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 5, 2003
Words:368
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