New Farnley’s victories over Woodlands and Townville on successive Saturdays have put them firmly in control at the top of the Premier Division table as the season reaches its midway point.
However, Woodlands bounced back with a vital win at Tofts Road last week, and the top two have drawn a little away from the other challengers, and the current state of play is- New Farnley (180 pts), Woodlands (166 pts) and Pudsey St Lawrence (146 pts).
It won’t be easy this week for New Farnley at Wagon Lane if Bradford & Bingley are on their game, while Woodlands have a home game with Ossett knowing they need to get that man Nick Connolly out.
The best match on paper is between Townville and Pudsey St Lawrence, who both have a little catching up to do. Townville’s two successive defeats have been compounded by a back injury to key bowler Conor Harvey.
Batley’s win over Farsley last week must have given them massive belief, and their survival does not look as distant now. They are still bottom on 66 points, and they play at Moorend this week against Cleckheaton who have only one point more.
This is a crunch match for both teams with the losers in a perilous position as we approach the half-way mark of the season.
Bankfoot have an important fixture at Bennett Lane against a Hanging Heaton side that have started to fire and will be boosted by the arrival of Sri Lankan batsman Sasith Manuranga. Although Bankfoot have a 22-point cushion above Cleckheaton, they are the team most likely to be in danger if the bottom two has a renaissance.
Farsley are seventh but must be licking their wounds after their defeat at the hand of Batley, and it could be that Methley could catch a reaction from them. However, the Methley slide will surely be arrested soon given their talent in the building.
Highlights from last week
New Farnley won the big match against Townville, but it was far from being a complete performance.
They were ruthless in the field, bowling Townville out for 105 with Mark Lawson (3-19) and Alex Lilley (3-24) doing the business. But in reply, they struggled to come to terms with the left arm spin of Jack Hughes who took 7-28, and they got home by three wickets.
However, it was the win that counted, and they have seriously dented Townville’s chances.
The other critical match at the top went the way of Woodlands who defeated Pudsey St Lawrence by 110-runs.
Woodlands scored freely and finished with 273-8 with good knocks from Sam Frankland (46), Tim Jackson (43), Tom Clee (68) and Brad Schmulian (48). Paceman Elliot Richardson, above, claimed the vital wickets of Mark Robertshaw and Charlie Best in a fiery opening spell to kick-start the Woodlands victory charge.
Pudsey’s seamer Charlie Parker was the one bowler that gave Woodlands concerns as he finished with the excellent figures of 5-75.
Batley had a significant victory which could signal a revival of fortunes. They defeated a solid Farsley side by seven wickets with Yasir Ali excelling again with 83 not out, and Nikash Khan assisting him in the run chase with 59. Farsley were dismissed for 170 when they batted first with Raza Hassan the pick of the bowlers with 4-41. Dan Revis (50) and Jonathan Read (40) were the best performers for Farsley.
Hanging Heaton continue to ease away from the bottom after a successful run chase of Methley’s 260-6. Callum Geldart hit a sparkling 110, which included four sixes plus 12 fours, while opener Nick Lindley anchored the innings with 70. Methley’s James Wainman had earlier scored an unbeaten 100, punctuated by five sixes and 11 fours.
Bankfoot again proved they are ready for the fight to stay in this division, despite a 44-run defeat at the hands of Bradford & Bingley. Hamzah Iqbal hit his maiden Premier Division century with an innings of 109 in an all-out total of 209.
Bradford & Bingley illustrated what a good side they are, and how the youth are contributing considerably. Nineteen-year-old Matthew Swallow top scored with 72, while captain Ed Brown (57) and Jacob Slator (32) helped their side to post a total of 253. Yasir Abbas (4-56), who is having a fine season, was again their best bowler.
Cleckheaton made a gallant attempt to beat Ossett and dismissed the prolific Nick Connelly cheaply. But they were again let down by a lack of strength in depth as only Richard Pyrah (40) and skipper Mally Nicholson (36) made substantial innings in a disappointing 176.
Ossett are having a very encouraging first season in the top flight and on this occasion Mubtada Akhtar (42no), Sajith Warnakulasuriya (40) and Sam Storr (37) produced the goods in the five-wicket win. Spinner Mattie Race curtailed the Cleck batting with a fine return of 5-41.
Jack Hughes (Townville) 33 at 16.70
Premier Division: Woodlands v Ossett, Townville v Pudsey St Lawrence, Bradford & Bingley v New Farnley, Hanging Heaton v Bankfoot, Farsley v Methley, Cleckheaton v Batley.
Jer Lane continues to record 20-point victories and amass big scores, and they are out of sight at the top.
The great interest now is the fight for second spot and there was a serious development last week when Undercliffe won, and Carlton lost a close one. This means that Undercliffe take over in second place in a very crowded promotion scramble between positions second and fifth.
Undercliffe have 146 points, closely followed by Carlton (144 pts), Birstall (138 pts) and Pudsey Congs (137 pts).
In an extremely competitive division, there was also significant movement at the bottom with East Ardsley recording their second successive win and their twitter account going into overdrive.
This will have given them a greater belief in surviving in Division One, but it’s mighty crowded at the bottom. Wrenthorpe are in deep trouble on 34 points, but Morley (83 pts), East Ardsley (88 pts), Baildon (90 pts) and East Bierley (95 pts) are presently all hovering in the drop zone.
It would be a great shock if Wrenthorpe beat Jer Lane this week, but other than that, there are some very even battles lined up.
Undercliffe have a home match against Keighley- a side in sixth place with a dangerous overseas player in Australian Noah McFadyen. They will also be buoyed by their Priestley Cup success against Premier League Batley.
The Carlton v Birstall fixture is the match of the day in the division. Carlton’s powerful batting side should hold sway in this one.
Pudsey Congs have slipped of late and need to beat Baildon to press second place Undercliffe.
It will be interesting to see if the East Ardsley revival continues when they play Gomersal, who are mid-table on 106 points. Gomersal are inconsistent but can score heavily on the day.
Morley’s game with East Bierley is a crucial one. If they win, they could break out of the bottom two, and land Bierley in more trouble at the bottom. However, Bierley’s great win at Carlton last week should hold them in good stead regarding confidence.
Highlights from last week
Jer Lane’s perfect start to the season continued with a 114-run win over Gomersal. Abubakar Dawood (50), Abdul Rehman (73) and Raqeeb Younis (40) saw them on their way, before Deron Greaves (99no) and Cosmond Walters (81no) hurried the score to a massive 382-4. Greaves was particularly explosive with nine sixes and six fours in an innings of just 33 balls.
Gomersal made a fine start to their reply with Liam Fletcher (97) and Richard Wear (52) putting their side in it at one point. But, run pressure got the better of them with Mohammed Jamal taking 4-72.
Undercliffe had to beat Baildon the hard way after losing their three main batters Ollie Hardaker, Danish Hussain and Byron Boshoff cheaply in pursuit of 202-8. However, a fourth wicket stand of 158 between Jack McGahan (86no) and skipper Bailey Worcester (82) enabled Undercliffe to win by five-wickets.
Baildon are not too far from the drop zone but can be encouraged by this performance that saw James Ford make an unbeaten 101, and Jonny Reynolds 42. However, it was Undercliffe’s paceman Zeeshan Qasim, above, who limited their ambitions with a fine haul of 5-74. Undercliffe were done a huge favour by East Bierley who effectively knocked Carlton from second.
Carlton made their usual good score with Kershaski John Lewis (71), Daniel Ford (52) and Nick Busby (50no) taking it to 246. However, East Bierley edged home by one-wicket with three balls to spare thanks to their last wicket pair of Danny Cross and Jack Hebden.
Bierley’s overseas player Nisar Ahmad held the key to their success by top scoring with 51 after taking an invaluable 5-47. More performances like this and Bierley won’t be looking over their shoulders at the drop zone teams. Birstall won the clash of the challengers when they beat Pudsey Congs by one-wicket.
Spin bowlers Dave McCallum (4-43) and Juned Delair (3-44) helped restrict Congs to 159-9 with Joshua Bennett (40no) managing to stretch the score out a bit.
Spin bowler Sam Wisniewski (5-56) caused Birstall problems, but Adam Eustace with 58, and McCallum, capping an excellent all-round performance with 33, played crucial innings in their victory.
Morley knew they had to beat Wrenthorpe, and they duly did by eight wickets. Spinner David Nebard took 5-42 to help to reduce Wrenthorpe to 154 all out. Openers Matt Baxter (57) and Jack Rowett (49) put on 106 to effectively get the job done. Adal Islam was again Wrenthorpe’s most effective player with 51.
East Ardsley showed lots of character in their vital 13-run win at Lawkholme Lane. They batted first and scored a very handy 225, with Muhammad Tariq (75) and James Van der Merwe (53) having good knocks.
Keighley’s leg spinner James Massheder returned figures of 5-65, but his efforts were in vain as no batter on the home side could record a fifty in a losing score of 212-9. Australian Noah McFadyen (32) and Nathan Storton (32) both got starts but needed to take it on further.
After two successive victories East Ardsley are now getting a taste for Division One cricket.
Zeeshan Qasim (Undercliffe) 29 at 13.69
Division One: East Ardsley v Gomersal, Undercliffe v Keighley, Pudsey Congs v Baildon, Carlton v Birstall, Morley v East Bierley, Jer Lane v Wrenthorpe.
This is another competitive division and illustrated clearly last week when bottom club Hartshead Moor defeated top side Northowram Fields. Former leaders Lightcliffe, who could do no wrong in the early part of the season, lost for the third successive week.
Sandal were the main beneficiaries of all this as they are the new leaders in a close top 5- Sandal (139 pts), Northowram Fields (134 pts), Yeadon (133 pts), Buttershaw St Paul's (125 pts) and Lightcliffe (123 pts).
It’s also close at the bottom with Hartshead Moor now on the march with 75 points, and Crossflats (78 pts) and Wakefield St Michael's (88 pts) just above them.
There are two promotion crunch matches this weekend in Northowram Fields v Yeadon and Sandal v Lightcliffe
Former leaders Northowram Fields will be fully extended by a Yeadon side that are now playing to their potential.
Lightcliffe will be looking to Alex Stead to add to his fine run-getting season, but he’ll need support from his colleagues to beat Sandal on their own midden.
Very much in the mix are Buttershaw St Paul's who should make home advantage count against Hunslet Nelson.
Crossflatts are hammering out decent run totals, but their bowling needs to find a cutting edge when they play Great Preston this weekend.
Hartshead Moor will be hoping Andrew Gale will be available for their visit to Bowling Old Lane, while Wakefield St Michael's need to get something tangible from their away match with Hopton Mills.
Highlights from last week
Just when they needed all the help they can get, Hartshead Moor had former Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale on debut last week when they beat league leaders Northowram Fields by 57 runs.
Gale made 116, an innings containing three sixes and 10 fours, which enabled Hartshead Moor to make 285-7, their highest score of the season. Hasnat Yousaf also chipped in with 69.
Young paceman Josh Marsden (5-42) excelled with the ball for Hartshead, while Ben Grech top scored for Fields with 67.
Centuries from Sri Lankan Pasindu Thirimadura (126) and Gareth Lee (100) took Yeadon to an eight-wicket win over Crossflatts who set a good target of 272-6. South African Ruan Van Rooyen impressed again for Crossflatts with an innings of 94, while opener Joe Hicks set the ball rolling with 64.
Lightcliffe’s bad run continued when Buttershaw St Paul’s beat them by 69 runs. Amer Ayoub took 5-38 as Lightcliffe were all out for 133.
Hopton Mills beat Great Preston by four wickets with Chris Scott (59) and Sohail Hussain (4-46) performing well, while Oliver Newton topped 50 for the losers.
Bowling Old Lane’s inconsistencies was exposed again as they went down to struggling Hunslet Nelson. The victors were indebted to Muhammad Iqbal (37) and Stiff (34) who pushed the score to 182-9 in the face of some good bowling from Saad Khan (5-45).
Will Stiff (3-19) and Sam Thewlis (3-42) were instrumental in bowling out the Old Lane for 147.
Zaeem Zulfqar (Sandal) 25 at 14.12
Division Two: Northowram Fields v Yeadon, Bowling Old Lane v Hartshead Moor, Buttershaw St Paul's v Hunslet Nelson, Sandal v Lightcliffe, Hopton Mills v Wakefield St Michael's, Crossflatts v Great Preston.
Adwalton were league leaders for quite a while, now they have some catching up to do as they face Liversedge who are now at the top. The compact ground at Adwalton might just suit them, but Liversedge are now on a roll.
Whatever happens, both sides have a very handy points cushion on the chasing sides- Liversedge (172 pts), Adwalton (150 pts), Scholes (129 pts) and Heckmondwike & Carlinghow (129 pts).
Heckmondwike & Carlinghow also need to do some catching up but should be too strong for Windhill & Daisy Hill.
On the fringes of the promotion pack are Scholes who will be expected to win at Crossbank Methodists. Another team on the fringes are Spen Victoria who will be favourites to win at Rodley.
A difficult match to predict is Brighouse v Altofts who are both competitive on their day but striving for consistency. Another close match is between East Leeds and Gildersome & Farnley Hill.
Highlights from last week
Liversedge had an emphatic nine-wicket victory over lowly Rodley last week with Parvaise Khan turning in a fine all-round performance with 41 runs and a bowling analysis of 4-33.
Adwalton are proving that they are in the top two for the long haul with another impressive victory. They beat Gildersome & Farnley Hill by 82 runs with Chris Bishop-West (56) and James Colbourn (5-18) the match winners.
Scholes had a surprisingly easy seven-wicket win over a Brighouse side that were previously on the rise. Bowlers Greg Keywood (pictured above, 5-24) and skipper Josh Fell (4-25) skittled out Brighouse for just 49.
Altofts halted Heckmondwike & Carlinghow’s recent charge by pulling off a 37-run win. Overseas player Jabari Mills was their star man scoring 65 not out and taking 3-17 on his debut.
Spen Victoria defeated Crossbank Methodists by six wickets to stay in touch with the promotion pack. Amjid Tariq returned impressive figures of 7-57 to confine Crossbank to a modest 136.
East Leeds proved to be too wily for Windhill & Daisy Hill who lost by 44-runs. For East Leeds, Zahid Tarvaz continued his good form with 59, while Zohail Iqbal (5-48). was the pick of the Windhill players.
Anas Imtiaz (Adwalton) 28 at 13.54
Division Three: Crossbank Methodists v Scholes, Rodley v Spen Victoria, Adwalton v Liversedge, East Leeds v Gildersome & Farnley Hill, Heckmondwike & Carlinghow v Windhill & Daisy Hill, Brighouse v Altofts.