Bradford & Bingley failed to take advantage of last week’s shock defeat of Woodlands by Wrenthorpe, when they went down to Cleckheaton, despite posting 261-5. They did however slightly lessen the points gap in the standings - Woodlands (220 pts) to Bradford & Bingley (202 pts) -mwith the latter having played a game more.
The disappointing batting of Woodlands last week will hearten relegation candidates Lightcliffe who they face this week. Lightcliffe recorded a heroic tie last week against New Farnley when all seemed lost.
Chasing New Farnley’s 189-9 the Lightcliffe innings was dominated by the efforts of their overseas player Suleman Khan (48), and Robert Burton (35no), who launched a last over assault to tie the match.
Despite Lightcliffe’s priceless 12 points, they are still in the bottom two, with the relegation pack looking like this- Undercliffe 145 points, Wrenthorpe 141, Lightcliffe 128 and Methley 96.
Woodlands will be taking nothing for granted against Lightcliffe and will remember last season when they were soundly beaten by the same opponents at Albert Terrace.
Bradford & Bingley had some good performers in their defeat last week with young batsmen Dan Revis (58) and Kyme Tahirkeli (54) excelling with the bat, and Bradley Reeve (4-44) proving again what a talented young spinner he is.
To keep on the tails of Woodlands they will need to beat Farsley who were lacking their Yorkshire players James Logan and Joshua Poysden last week.,
However, their overseas player Pat Kruger compensated well, top scoring with 63 and taking 5-32 with the ball as his team cut down Pudsey St Lawrence at Tofts Road.
The prospect of Wrenthorpe going to Hanging Heaton a few weeks ago would have been a daunting prospect, but this is no longer the case for the Bragg Lane End team. Hanging Heaton suffered their fifth defeat in their last six league games last week when they got beaten by Townville.
In addition, Wrenthorpe will be buoyed by their shock defeat of Woodlands which was heavily influenced by their overseas player Khalil Khan.
After top scoring with 55 in his side’s total of 160-9, Khan produced an economical 15 over spell of spin bowling that yielded just 19 runs and prevented the Woodlands batsmen from cutting loose.
Wrenthorpe captain Jordan Sleightholme acknowledges the role Khan is playing. He said: “Obviously, it goes without saying that Khalil Khan has been a massive part of our team this year, as he’s produced with both bat and ball on a number of occasions.
"I know Khalil, as we all are, is excited to play at one of the best grounds in the league as we travel to Hanging Heaton, and the whole club will be hoping he is able to produce the goods again. Playing the T20 national champions is exactly the reason why we were so keen to get promoted last year. Playing the best teams means we won’t struggle for motivation."
Sleightholme is delighted his team has bounced back. He added: “Following a great start to the season, we went through a pretty lean patch for quite a while. We played largely good cricket but couldn’t get over the line.
"It’s been really pleasing to see how the lads have bounced back from this difficult run to produce some brilliant results. The best so far was our win over league leaders Woodlands last Saturday which I don’t think many people would have expected, aside from those involved at Wrenthorpe who knew it was possible if we played to our potential.
“Whilst we know Hanging Heaton provide another very stiff challenge this weekend with quality and experience throughout their whole team, we have restored some of the confidence from early season and we are hoping we can continue to produce good performances.
"It’s well-known how good Hanging Heaton can be on their day, but other teams have shown they can be beaten this year and we are looking to make amends for a fairly heavy defeat in the corresponding home match earlier on in the season."
Sleightholme concludes. “We knew how difficult it would be this year having been promoted, but the team has been working really hard to ensure we give it our best, with each player throughout the team producing key contributions at different points.
"It’s this teamwork, spirit and `never say die’ attitude that we try to bring and is something I believe can be a deciding factor in tight games. I think our game against Farsley a few weeks back when we came back from 27/6 to win was a prime example of this."
Methley’s damaging defeat by Undercliffe has left them 45-points behind Wrenthorpe who are third bottom.
They had chances to beat Undercliffe when their skipper Jarred Warner had reduced them to 22-3. However, after Warner had rationed his own bowling, Undercliffe successfully chased 174-7.
This means that their visit to old Central Yorkshire League rivals Townville has taken on critical proportions. Townville are in good form after beating New Farnley and Hanging Heaton recently in the league, and have risen to fifth. Last week they were powered to a total of 257-8 by Conor Harvey (60) and skipper Jack Hughes (39).
The New Farnley v Pudsey St Lawrence match has all the ingredients of a tasty battle and Charlie Parker and Adam Waite might well get a hot reception from the visitors after their move across the district.
St Lawrence’s young guns are still delivering despite last week’s defeat at the hands of Farsley, while New Farnley will be disappointed with their tie against Lightcliffe. The key man in this match is left armer Alex Lilley.
Cleckheaton will be hoping that Yorkshire batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore will be available against Undercliffe after his match-winning innings last week against Bradford & Bingley.
He blasted 79 runs off 44 balls to get Cleckheaton’s reply off to a flying start and he was backed up by Nick Lindley (73) and skipper Mally Nicholson (44) as they reached their target with 10 balls to spare.
Cleck’s captain Mally Nicholson is pleased how things are going. He said: “We are playing some good cricket now, and that is a good sign heading for the last quarter of the season. Also, it’s good to see the young lads doing well and getting a go. Everyone is chipping in for us at the moment”.
Nicholson acknowledges how big the game is this weekend against Undercliffe, “We know it’s a big game this weekend, and we need to keep the run going. Undercliffe had a good win last week against Methley and we won’t be underestimating them. We know they have match-winners, like most teams in this league, and we will be well prepared for Saturday."
Cleckheaton are now fifth, but have a habit of slipping up against the lesser clubs in the league. If they show any sign of weakness this week, Undercliffe will pounce after their fighting display last week against Methley.
Undercliffe opener Simon Lambert hit an unbeaten 106 to steer his side to victory at Methley. However, he was helped enormously by tail-end hitter Zeeshan Qasim who smashed an unbeaten 30 runs off 13 balls. Previously he had helped to keep the Methley score in check with a fine spell of 4-35.
Premier League fixtures: Townville v Methley, Hanging Heaton v Wrenthorpe, Woodlands v Lightcliffe, New Farnley v Pudsey St Lawrence, Farsley v Bradford & Bingley, Cleckheaton v Undercliffe.
Last week could not have gone better for leaders Batley who beat the emerging Pudsey Congs by 75-runs, and saw their two main promotion rivals Bankfoot and Morley both lose.
Batley continued their winning run, and it was down to their in-form bowlers Muhammad Shahnawaz (5-32) and Tariq Hussain (3-13) to wrap up the victory by bowling out Congs for 77.
This week Batley play Baildon who beat them in the corresponding league fixture at Jenny Lane earlier in the season.
Last week, Baildon beat Wakefield St Michael’s with Jonny Reynolds (93no), opener Will Grace (61) and Blair Oakley (40 & 5-48) all showing good form.
Morley fell from grace last week losing to Gomersal for the second time this season after being bowled out for 105. They had chances to rectify the position, but allowed Gomersal’s last pair to put on 20 runs to secure victory.
They will look to put things right this week against Wakefield St Michael’s who had Cavan Connolly (59) top scoring in their defeat against Baildon.
Bankfoot lost to Hartshead Moor by two runs despite Andrew Stothart (5-49) and Jawad Waheed (4-27) ensuring a modest run chase of 145. They should get back on track against bottom side Scholes, but won’t take anything for granted knowing that their opponent had a heartening victory over East Bierley.
Teenage Spinner Jade Roberts was the star turn for Scholes with 5-43 as East Bierley were bowled out for 130,
The relegation dog-fight now includes Keighley and East Bierley who have sunk down the table in recent weeks.
Keighley lost to Ossett last week despite Nathan Storton’s knock of 63, and will be anxious to get a decent points tally against a resurgent Hartshead Moor.
Hartshead had their overseas player Ali Shan to thank for his decisive contribution of 70 when beating promotion chasing Bankfoot.
Gomersal and Ossett, who clash at Oxford Road, have crept clear of immediate relegation alarms and the winner will probably push into the top half.
Morley has now conceded a league double to Gomersal who bowled them out for 105 thanks to Richard Wear (4-16) and Chris Rhodes (3-19). However, in reply Gomersal were tottering on 87-9 until Rhodes (16no) dominated a last-wicket stand of 20 with Chris Greenwood to see his side home.
Ossett registered a six-wicket defeat over Keighley after Oliver Newton (67) and an unbeaten 55 from Jack McGahan had reached the 215 target.
Pudsey Congs promotion hopes were all but extinguished last week when they met leaders Batley. This week they play East Bierley who are now desperate for a win to ease their relegation fears.
Championship One Fixtures: Morley v Wakefield St Michael's, Gomersal v Ossett, Keighley v Hartshead Moor, Bankfoot v Scholes, East Bierley v Pudsey Congs, Batley v Baildon.
Carlton are now in a commanding position at the top as they brushed off form team Buttershaw St Paul’s by nine wickets.
Kershaski John Lewis was again the star player as he hit an unbeaten 59 after producing his season’s best bowling figures of 7-24.
Carlton go to relegation haunted Adwalton who lost to Altofts despite a wonderful knock from Umar Shakir who hit 80 off just 55 balls, in which 76 of his runs came in boundaries.
Birstall boosted their promotion challenge with a four-wicket win over fellow contenders Yeadon in a rehearsal for the Jack Hampshire Cup final on August 18. Yeadon, who were dismissed for just 109, could not cope with. James Russell (3-40), Josh Haynes (3-27) and Ryan Gray (3-8).
East Ardsley, who is Birstall’s next opponents, were surprisingly rolled over by Hopton Mills last week to the tune of nine wickets.
Yeadon are now 21-points adrift of second place Birstall, and must beat Buttershaw St Paul’s to get back on track.
Jer Lane has climbed to sixth in the table and can now play with more freedom now their relegation fears have eased. They defeated Northowram Fields in a high-scoring match last week with the highlight being Hazrat Shah’s late knock.
Coming in at number nine, Shah smashed 90 from just 50 balls and peppered the boundary with seven sixes and nine fours. He dominated a last-wicket stand of 76 with Matthew Johnson which swelled the Jer Lane total to 291.
This week Jer Lane are at home to Altofts who are still desperate for points to get out of the dreaded bottom three.
However, Altofts had a valuable win last week when they bowled out Adwalton for 145 with Ismail Patel taking 5-17.
Bowling Old Lane continued their climb away from the danger zone last week when they beat Liversedge by 183-runs. Paceman Zeeshan Haider (6-25) and Adam Zahid (4-27) ripped through the Liversedge batting, while Ahsan Butt helped himself to 75 runs.
This week they play high scoring Northowram Fields in what could be a run-fest. Northowram will be desperate to do well to steer further away from the bottom three.
Hopton Mills had a badly needed win last week with an emphatic nine-wicket victory over East Ardsley. Ashley Mackereth blasted four sixes and 10 fours while making 79 to guide Hopton Mills past East Ardsley’s score of 130 with just one wicket down. Andy Grey (5-24) had earlier set up the win.
Hopton could reinforce their position when they meet a Spen Victoria side experiencing a bad second half of the season. Mohammed Maroof took 5-40 for Spen Victoria last week but could not save his side from a 48-run defeat at Hunslet Nelson.
Liversedge need to show better form than last week if they are to claw back 29-points to safety. They visit a Hunslet Nelson side that beat Spen Victoria with Patrick Hinchliffe (46) and skipper Will Stiff (4-18) bang in form.
Championship Two Fixtures: Jer Lane v Altofts, Birstall v East Ardsley, Northowram Fields v Bowling Old Lane, Adwalton v Carlton, Buttershaw St Paul’s v Yeadon, Hopton Mills v Spen Victoria, Liversedge v Hunslet Nelson.
Sandal is now 34-points clear at the top after pocketing a maximum 20 points in a nine-wicket win over Rodley. Sam Noden (4-30) and Lee Geldard (5-12) sparked a collapse which saw Rodley lose their last six wickets for four runs as they were bowled out for 64.
They should be able to retain or even increase their lead this weekend after playing struggling Crossbank Methodists who fell to Windhill & Daisy Hill despite another good bowling analysis from Imran Patel (4-27).
Great Preston had a free date last week as Sandal surged on, but can count on a match in hand in the final run-in. They also have a date with Sandal in August which will give them an opportunity to claw back the lead.
This week they will be going for a `maximum points’ aggregate when they welcome Heckmondwike & Carlinghow to Berry Lane. Their visitors are rooted to the bottom with only 50-points to their name.
Third place Gildersome & Farnley Hill have been dealt an unfair hand this season with the weather, and it happened again last week when their clash with East Leeds was abandoned because of the rain.
However, the match was finely balanced with no clear favourite when the rain halted proceedings. East Leeds was on 182-6 from 42.3 overs in their chase of Gildersome’s total of 227-9. Adam Campion (66) and Stefan James (52) were on form for Gildersome.
They now stand a total of 50-points behind Sandal with promotion now a forlorn hope.
Rodley are their next opponents and it is difficult to see them breaching Gildersome’s unbeaten record in the league.
Windhill & Daisy Hill could overtake Brighouse in the league if they beat them this weekend at Busy Lane. Tabassum Bhatti was instrumental in Windhill’s victory over Crossbank Methodists, and he will be the main man for Brighouse to subdue.
Things got worse for Brighouse last week as they failed to chase down Oulton’s 108, finishing 12-runs short after Jack Andrews had taken four valuable wickets.
Oulton have a free date this week, as do East Leeds who fought such a good fight last week against Gildersome & Farnley Hill. Their talisman James Watling could well have won the match for his side as he was unbeaten on 60, after a fine spell of bowling that netted him 4-61.
Conference Fixtures: Windhill & Daisy Hill v Brighouse, Rodley v Gildersome & Farnley Hill, Great Preston v Heckmondwike & Carlinghow, Crossbank Methodists v Sandal, Free: Oulton, East Leeds.
Pictures: Ray Spencer
Top picture: Suleman Khan is a key man for Lightcliffe
Above: Adam Campion has been in good form for Gildersome & Farnley Hill