New Farnley are back with a bang after a comprehensive victory over Premier Division leaders Woodlands at Albert Terrace.
With Andrew Brewster back in their bowling line-up and making the first breakthrough, they proved to be much too potent for the Woodlands batting on the day, as Alex Lilley (pictured, 5-15) and Charlie Parker (4-27) turned them over for 68.
This has reignited the title race as Pudsey St Lawrence and Bradford & Bingley have closed in on Woodlands, while Hanging Heaton missed a great chance, losing a run-chase narrowly for the second successive week.
This must be a source of great frustration for them, particularly with their deep batting line-up. It gets no easier this week when they travel to a reinvigorated New Farnley,
If New Farnley replicate their fine seam bowling efforts of last week, it could be a bridge too far for a Hanging Heaton side that are looking increasingly vulnerable.
Cricket Secretary Andrew Hunt acknowledges it is going to be tough. He said: “It’s a massive month for us really, but to win the title we can’t lose again, and Woodlands will need to lose a couple of matches, including when they play us.
"It’s a tough league as we keep saying- we lost to Cleck and Farsley, and earlier Lightcliffe chased a massive score to beat us. We just need a bit of luck, and everything will hopefully come up trumps. We haven’t had the best of luck with the weather early in the season, but we know Woodlands have a good side”.
Hunt concludes: “We’ve got lots to play for with the Priestley Cup semi-final on Sunday, and later in the month we defend our Regional Twenty/20 Trophy at Billingham."
Woodlands need to get back on track against bottom side Methley, who now have Yorkshire pacemen Jarred Warner and Matthew Waite fit to bowl.
Methley had their chance to beat Pudsey St Lawrence last week when they had them at 39-5, after posting a modest 146. However, Jordan Laban who gave his team early impetus with 53, lacked the support to make a more challenging target.
Methley, are still without a league win and are now 33-points from safety. They will need to sustain a run of good form to take them away from the bottom two.
As for Pudsey St Lawrence, they continue to confound the critics with their young home-spun side, and are now only 24-points behind leaders Woodlands. .
Spinners Steve Watts (4-33) and Archie Scott (3-50) were influential in the Methley win, but a determined innings of 32 from young Josh Priestley proved equally as vital as St Lawrence recovered to win with eight wickets down.
Second-placed St Lawrence have a cracking match at Wagon Lane this weekend where they play third place Bradford & Bingley.
Last week Bradford & Bingley beat Lightcliffe by four wickets after Bradley Reeve (4-33) helped to reduce the opposition to 178. A second-wicket stand of 101 between Kyme Tahirkeli (68) and Callam Goldthorp (41) more or less ensured victory.
Farsley returned to winning ways last week with a hard-earned five-run win at Hanging Heaton This success owed much to a battling innings of 52 from Ben Morley which helped them post a challenging score of 223-9. However, it was captain and No.9 batsman Matthew Lumb that propelled the score past the 200-mark with an unbeaten 56.
Farsley were able to just about defend it with leg-spinner Josh Poysden (4-61) and Pat Kruger (3-60) making important contributions with the ball.
This week they have a chance to break into the title race when they face a Townville side that fell to a disappointing home defeat last week against Cleckheaton.
Cleckheaton are bang in form beating Hanging Heaton and Townville in successive weeks and looking for a top-five place. This is now a test of their consistency to maintain their charge, and they will be determined to make no mistake against out of form Wrenthorpe.
Cleck’s pacemen Jonathan Whiteoak will be raring to go having taken 6-38 against Townville.
Two sides just above the bottom two clash at Intake Road where the home team Undercliffe will be out to increase their 15-point lead on Lightcliffe.
Undercliffe could not have been more impressive in their emphatic 10-wicket win over fellow relegation rivals Wrenthorpe.
Overseas spinner Khalid Usman took 5-53 and Scott Etherington (3-44) as Wrenthorpe were bowled out for 143, while Undercliffe’s openers Simon Lambert (87no) and Jack Holland (42no) powered their side to victory with an unbeaten stand of 144.
Lightcliffe’s four-wicket defeat by Bradford & Bingley was despite Suleman Khan’s virtuoso performance in top scoring with 75, and also taking four wickets for 45 with the ball.
Premier League fixtures: Woodlands v Methley, New Farnley v Hanging Heaton, Farsley v Townville, Cleckheaton v Wrenthorpe, Undercliffe v Lightcliffe, Bradford & Bingley v Pudsey St Lawrence.
Despite entering the second half of the season there is no clear guidelines at the top after five of the leading seven lost last week.
Leaders Bankfoot were the beneficiaries of this as James Lee (4-26) and Andrew Stothart (4-32) rocked a young Keighley side to secure victory.
They have a home match against Gomersal who surprisingly beat East Bierley last week largely thanks to left-arm spinner Chris Rhodes, above, who produced a devastating spell of 8-28. It was a much needed win for a Gomersal side that are too close for comfort to the relegation zone.
Morley’s fine form of late ended when their sometimes creaky batting let them down against promotion rivals Batley. This week they will be out to make amends at East Bierley, but will be aware of the form of new seamer Umar Farooq.
Batley have now broken into the top two after cutting down Morley. An opening stand of 122 between Owais Hussain (62) and Roheil Hussain (55) helped propel Batley to a score of 233-8, while bowlers Mohammad Shahnawaz (5-34) and Mohammed Bhoola (4-19) ensured an easy win.
They face old Central Yorkshire League rivals Ossett who may be in the relegation scramble, but beat Baildon last week. Mushy Rafique (4-28) and Matt Varley (4-27) skittled Baildon for 104, before overseas player Isiah Lange hit an unbeaten 56 as Ossett reached their victory target
Keighley are in need of a win and face a Wakefield St Michael’s side that are showing better form of late.
Last week they scored a crushing167-run win over Scholes in the battle of the bottom two with Imran Mahboob scoring 73 runs and also picking up 3-17.
Scholes are looking relegation favourites with 40-points to be made up on third bottom club Ossett. They visit a Pudsey Congs side buoyed by last week’s victory against Hartshead Moor.
An unbeaten innings of 87 from Congs’ teenage batsman Vikram Sharma, and a return of 5-43 from opening bowler Chris Doey, were the vital contributions to their five-run win.
Baildon are slipping down the table with their promotion hopes further damaged after their latest defeat at Ossett. They face Hartshead Moor who lost a close match with Pudsey Congs last week.
Championship One Fixtures: Keighley v Wakefield St Michael's, Bankfoot v Gomersal, East Bierley v Morley, Batley v Ossett, Baildon v Hartshead Moor, Pudsey Congs v Scholes.
Carlton took maximum advantage of Yeadon’s free date when they surged 15 points clear after a 125-run win over East Ardsley.
The runs they are getting this season are certainly shared out and it was Steve Cooper’s turn on this occasion hitting 129, an innings containing 22 fours, reflecting the team’s strength in depth.
Next up for Carlton is a tricky looking visit to Hunslet Nelson who have lost touch with the chasing pack of late.
Yeadon will be looking to close the gap on Carlton when they visit Hopton Mills who lost heavily to Birstall.
Birstall are now only eight points behind second-placed Yeadon after their decisive 212-run win over Hopton Mills.
Australian Ashley Burton (70no), Eric Austin (63), Rishy Limbechaya (41) and Nick Kaye (36) all helped Birstall to a very competitive 282-6. Mills were rolled over for just 70 with left-arm seamer James Russell taking 4-14
Birstall will be expecting to keep the pressure on Yeadon when they visit Liversedge. However, last week the bottom side came close to winning a low-scoring encounter with Northowram Fields.
Liversedge bowled their opponents out for 108 with James Lunn (4-13) and Ben Ford (3-20) enjoying the bowling conditions. Asad Mahmood (61) tried his hardest to get Liversedge home but lacked support in the order.
Spen Victoria are now very much in promotion contention after an astonishing win at Adwalton. Spen’s Peter Jackson scored a career-best 155 not out which enabled his side to chase down Adwalton’s score of 354-7 to win with four balls to spare.
Spen visit Jer Lane who eased away from immediate relegation danger by beating Altofts last week. This was largely down to Tahir Khan making a fine 102,
Buttershaw St Paul’s are still maintaining their high ranking after winning at Bowling Old Lane by 99 runs. Jonathan Burston (86), Ben Platt (68no) and James Crossland (77) took the game away from the Old Lane.
They meet East Ardsley who are now back in mid-table, but should draw heart from Louie Hurley’s performance against leaders Carlton, top scoring with 48, and also taking 3-62.
Bowling Old Lane are in the dreaded bottom three and are in real danger of losing their Championship status. They have two very effective batsmen in Ashan Butt, and Farakh Hussain, but little in the way of penetrative bowling.
This week they do have a gilt-edged chance of improving their position when they meet out of form Altofts who lost to Jer Lane last week. This was despite a fine spell of bowling from Ismail Patel (5-38).
It must have been dispiriting last week for an Adwalton side that could not defend a score of 354-7 against Spen Victoria. The plus side was the fine form of four of their batsmen Umar Shakir (95), James Sherrin (85no), Matt Donohoe (77) and Vinit Patel (51).
They need to beat Northowram Fields and draw their opponents further into the increasingly-crowded relegation zone.
Last week Northowram just about got home in a low scoring match with struggling Liversedge. Despite being bowled out for 108, they successfully defended it with Todd Reeday (6-11) and Josh Bennett Kear (4-41) securing a five-run win.
Championship Two Fixtures: Altofts v Bowling Old Lane, Liversedge v Birstall, Adwalton v Northowram Fields, Buttershaw St Paul's v East Ardsley, Hunslet Nelson v Carlton, Hopton Mills v Yeadon, Jer Lane v Spen Victoria.
Great Preston’s recent impetus has taken them clear at the top by a single point. Centuries from Tyson Freeman and Ben Broxup powered them to a decisive 121-run win over Oulton last week.
The title initiative might well return to Sandal this week as Great Preston has a free week.
Sandal’s Australian bowler Ryan Bishop Perrett took 6-32 last week in their expected defeat of Heckmondwike & Carlinghow. However, it could be more difficult for Sandal at Brighouse who have the batting to register a big score.
Third-placed Gildersome & Farnley Hills are still lasting the pace, but found it difficult at struggling Windhill & Daisy Hill. They eventually chased down Windhill’s 229-6 to secure a one-wicket win with 11 balls to spare thanks to the efforts of Reece Thompson (84) and Josh Potter (60).
They have another opportunity to put pressure on the top two when they face Crossbank Methodist’s at home.
Fourth-placed Oulton had Ben Child in fine form in their defeat against the leaders Great Preston. They will doubtless hope he duplicates his innings of 73 when they face East Leeds who lost to Rodley.
Rodley are now up to fifth after their impressive 89-run win over East Leeds. Skipper Rob Young (95) and fellow opener Gary Sagar (41) laid the foundation for their challenging score of 224-8. Later Lachlan Roche (4-39) and Sagar (3-24) ensured that Rodley would defend the total in some comfort.
Rodley could cement their position in the league for the time being with a win against the bottom side Heckmondwike & Carlinghow.
Windhill & Daisy Hill, who has a free date, had several encouraging performances last week in their defeat by Gildersome. Matthew Marshall (48no), Maz Bhatti (39no), Patel (36) and Adam Swaine (33) all showed a bit of fight after their talisman Tabassum Bhatti fell for 9.
Conference Fixtures: Brighouse v Sandal, Gildersome & Farnley Hill v Crossbank Methodists, Oulton v East Leeds, Rodley v Heckmondwike & Carlinghow. Free: Windhill & Daisy Hill, Great Preston.
Review: Reg Nelson Pictures: Ray Spencer