IT’S one right out of the book of ‘only in non league football’.

AFC Darwen saw their impressive three-match winning run stall when the car carrying all three of their strikers broke down on the M62 on the way to Emley on Wednesday night.

With the three players stranded, Darwen ended up fielding a makeshift front line and slipped to a 3-1 defeat in their North West Counties League Division One North encounter.

Thankfully for Langford and his striking trio of Ryan Steele, Leon Creech and Niall Ellis, they only have to get as far as the Anchor Ground for tomorrow’s East Lancs derby at home to Bacup Borough.

“How typical is it that all three strikers were in the same car,” said Langford. “We ended up playing a centre back and a winger up front. Fair play to them, they did a decent job but playing without your regular strike force is not ideal.”

Defender Sam Holt and wide man Livesey Mason, who scored on the trip to West Yorkshire, led the line and while Langford was full of praise for the duo, he is hoping normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

“Sam’s obviously a defender but he went up top and did a decent job,” he said. “Livesey has only just joined us and he got the goal so I was happy for him.

“But we normally play a 4-3-3 formation so we’ll revert back to that on Saturday. It’s at home so hopefully all three strikers will turn up!”

Ahead of the visit of Bacup, Langford is looking forward to locking horns with Brent Peters again - the long serving Boro boss who passed 1,000 games in charge at the Brian Boys West View Stadium last month.

“Brent is a great character and I have a lot of time for him,” said Langford. “I’ve known him for a long time and it is always good to deal with him and have a chat.

“What he has done at Bacup is remarkable. He’s been there for more than 20 years and that is unheard of in non league football.”

But despite the obvious admiration, Langford wants to get one over Peters and start climbing the table.

“It has been a tough season for us but I think we are turning the corner,” added Langford. “Apart from the misfortune of Emley, we had won the three previous games and were on a good run of form. So as much as I like Brent, I want to beat him and getting back to winning ways.”

Darwen are currently 16th place, seven points off the bottom of the table but, at the same time, they are just nine points outside the play-offs with a game in hand - and Langford is looking up.

“It’s a mad old league this one,” he said. “It’s so tight. We are close to the bottom but not that far away from the play-offs. I usually don’t look at the tables but the lads all remind me of where we are so I have no choice!”

Having played eight of their opening nine league and cup games away this season - due to the laying of a new 4G pitch - Langford is hoping a run of home fixtures towards the end of the campaign will work to Darwen’s advantage.

“The pitch is fantastic, it is from Holland and the same as they use up in Scotland,” said Langford. “But we were late getting it down.

“But it means we will have a run of home games and if we can turn Anchor in to a fortress, then who knows what might happen.”