Champs lose for first time since January 2003

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COMBATIVE midfielder Keith McCulloch was sent off for the second successive match as Kirkham and Wesham lost their aura of invincibility.

Brandished a straight red against Lytham St Annes in the Lancashire Amateur Shield, McCulloch this time picked up two yellows in the 1-0 West Lancashire League defeat at title rivals Dalton United.

It was the reigning champions' first defeat since January 2003 and cost manager Mick Fuller's men top place as Dalton, Turton and Burnley United leapfrogged them.

A mistimed tackle meant McCulloch departed with half-time looming and his side trailing to a tap-in in the 20th minute.

Despite their handicap, Kirkham gave their hosts a grilling and hit the woodwork five times.

Kirkham's last league defeat was by Wyre Villa, who they visit in the next round of the county knockout on October 23.

However, there was no happy sequel for Villa after they ended Freckleton's interest in the competition with a 2-1 win at Stalmine.

Freckleton promptly reversed the scoreline when the sides met there in the premier division. Alan Wright earned them revenge with a goal in each half. Mark Gartside was Villa's scorer.

Blackpool Rovers dominated the division one derby with Lytham St Annes, who disappointed in the 3-0 downfall at Lytham Cricket Club. Ryan Bingham got two and trusty veteran Dave Baron the other.

Norcross and Warbreck continue to harbour promotion prospects with their fifth win in six matches. Struggling Milnthorpe Cornithians pushed them hard before going down 2-1 to goals by Wheeler and Myers.

Thornton Cleveleys are also looking good in division two. Star man Darren Hall netted twice to give them a 2-0 win at newcomers Bolton County.

Kirkham's second string trounced Garstang 7-0 in reserve division one, with Darren St Val (2), Dave Shepherd, Rick Murch, Matt Johnson, Lee Fleming and Liam Pearson doing the business.

Freckleton, slowly regaining last season's form, accounted for visitors Coppull United 2-0 (Kevin Robinson and Luke Muncaster) but Poulton Town only drew 2-2 with Eagley and have lost their way since starting the season brightly. Chris Watkinson and Kevin Blofeld scored.

Bottom team Norcross floundered 3-0 at home to Barnoldswick, while Thorntoon Cleveleys unluckily slipped 1-0 at home to BAC Preston.

Martin Hook's goal brought Wyre Villa a welcome 1-1 draw at Todmorden Borough in reserve division two, where Lytham lost 3-1 at home to Fleetwood Hesketh.