RISHTON captain Andy Bartley has warned his players they will have to raise their games this season if they want to successfully defend their SponsorBank Lancashire League title, starting tomorrow against Nelson.

The Blackburn Road club were last season's surprise package, scooping their first league crown since 1996 after a tense fight with Rawtenstall.

But, if they are to repeat that feat again this year, then Bartley insists everyone at the club must raise the bar again because he believes his side is now there to be shot at'.

"There's going to be different pressures on us this season compared to last year," said Bartley.

"Last season we had a new team and no-one expected us to win the title, but we began the season full of confidence and just kept on winning.

"This season it's going to be different, because everyone knows how we play, so we'll have to raise our game if we want to defend our title.

"I think the league will be far more open, with as many as six teams in with a chance of winning it.

"I'm glad we've managed to get Saeed Anwar for another season because he was excellent for us last year.

"If he failed with the bat, then he'd always get wickets instead, and vice versa, and you can't ask for any more from your pro."

Nelson, who welcome Craig McMillan for a third season, include Sam Halstead, Farukh Bukhari and former Colne player Sean Lemon.

Andrew Smith stands in for the unavailable Joey Marcroft as Haslingden take on Todmorden at Bentgate. He will play alongside Mike Ingham, who needs just 53 runs to become the first man in history to score 17,000 Lancashire League runs.

Todmorden pro Gulam Bodi is still on international duty with South Africa, so Kiwi spinner Bruce Martin steps into the breach.

Ramsbottom field new professional Lou Vincent in a full strength line-up at Dill Hall Lane against Enfield.

Nick Cronshaw skippers Bacup for the first time as his side face cup holders East Lancs at Lanehead.

But the home team will be without experienced professional Chris Harris, who arrives next week. Rochdale's Alcindo Holder deputises.

John Chapman continues behind the stumps and Matt O'Connor returns to the side.

Will Driver makes his Lowerhouse debut for the home game against last season's strugglers Accrington.

Professional Brendan Drew arrived from Australia on Thursday, and will start, while Chris Benbow and Chris Bleazard return.

Graham Lloyd, Paul Carroll and Jimmy Hayhurst all start for Accy.

New professional Niel Bredenkamp makes his Lancashire League bow for Church, but Burnley will be without new professional Jeeva Kulatunga who is involved in a 20/20 competition back home in Sri Lanka.

Rawtenstall include John Hayman, Afrus Ali and Andy Riley in a full strength side to play Colne, who have new signing from Read Chris Holt along with David Wallbank and Colin Varley.