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Premier Division strugglers look for lifeline

Premier Division strugglers look for lifeline

14 Aug 2019

The Premier League fixtures were badly affected by rain last week and the sides fighting relegation would have had mixed feelings. Undercliffe and Lightcliffe were spared tough matches, but there again; it has been proved this year that any team can beat any other.

Both teams would have been frustrated when they found out that Wrenthorpe and Methley were playing.

Wrenthorpe beat the rain to a degree and were involved in a Duckworth Lewis Stern defeat against Hanging Heaton who seemed to have got their form back. Wrenthorpe made a valiant effort to chase down Hanging Heaton’s total of 145-1, which was revised significantly higher, with James Glynn (52 runs) promoted to open the innings, but it wasn’t to be. Ironically, Wrenthorpe would have gained more points in a total abandonment.

The big winners were Methley who managed to play a full game against Townville, and won by 33-runs. Methley’s Grant Soames (60 runs) did the most to ensure a match-winning score of 199-8.

Methley have now given themselves a lifeline in reducing their points deficit on third bottom Wrenthorpe to a more manageable 28-points.

This week they have a difficult looking home match against fourth place Cleckheaton who last time out defeated title-chasing Bradford & Bingley.

However, Cleckheaton are an unpredictable team as evidenced by their league double over Bradford & Bingley, coupled with their Wrenthorpe double loss.

Methley have strength in depth and it is a big surprise to see them where they are. The real mitigating circumstance is their inability to get enough overs out of Yorkshire’s Matthew Waite and Jarred Warner, pictured, because of injury of county restrictions.

Warner will be absent again this weekend after joining Sussex on loan for the second time this season to help cover for Jofra Archer's England call up.

After this match, Methley have the best run-in of their relegation rivals when they play Wrenthorpe (A), Farsley (H), Lightcliffe (A) and New Farnley (H).

Lightcliffe play Hanging Heaton who they beat earlier this season in a thriller at Bennett Lane. The Batley based side could not close a winning position off, and this has been a recurring theme this season.

They have lost a succession of matches and might be vulnerable to a Lightcliffe team that will be fighting for their lives. However, they got back on track last week with Gary Fellows (62 runs) pointing the way to a Duckworth Lewis Stern victory over Wrenthorpe.

The key man for Lightcliffe will be Suleman Khan, while Tom Chippendale’s form with the ball seems to be unaffected by his team’s fall from grace.

Wrenthorpe, despite their defeat by Hanging Heaton, will still be buzzing after their remarkable win against leaders Woodlands. They will have to keep their standards at that level when they play old Central Yorkshire League rivals Townville.  

The Castleford crew had Jack Hughes (73 runs) and Harry Clewett (5-60) in form in their defeat against Methley last week.

Skipper Hughes is anxious Townville finish as high as possible, while Jordan Sleightholme has engendered a definite grit into this Wrenthorpe side that makes them hard to beat.

Wrenthorpe captain Sleightholme had no illusions about the difficulty this year/ He said: "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."

Of the four sides embroiled in the relegation fight Undercliffe are the best placed, but after the Farsley match this weekend they have a tough run-in when they play New Farnley (A), Woodlands (H), Hanging Heaton (A) and Townville (H).

It might be a good time to play Farsley given they are lacking the services of their two Yorkshire players James Logan and Josh Poysden. However, they have the in-form Pat Kruger to contend with.

The title race re-commences with second place Bradford & Bingley needing to beat New Farnley at Wagon Lane. This game could hinge on how well the home side can deal with Farnley’s new ball pairing of Andrew Brewster and Alex Lilley.

Leaders Woodlands will be tested by the young prospects of Pudsey St Lawrence at Tofts Road. Cieran Garner’s side are unrelenting this season when they smell blood, and they have got their Wrenthorpe defeat out of their system after winning the Priestley Cup last week.

Archie Scott could be a threat with his leg spin, but Woodlands have an experienced trio of Chris Brice, Kez Ahmed and Brad Schmulian.

Premier League fixtures: Methley v Cleckheaton, Undercliffe v Farsley, Bradford & Bingley v New Farnley, Pudsey St Lawrence v Woodlands, Lightcliffe v Hanging Heaton, Wrenthorpe v Townville.

Championship One

The weather is turning the promotion race into something of a lottery, and this is illustrated by Bankfoot’s frustration in not being able to play against rock-bottom Scholes, and Morley barely got started against lowly Wakefield St Michael’s.

Batley were the undoubted winners in the promotion mix last week, securing priceless eight points in their aborted match with Baildon. However, it could have been even better if their match had concluded as they had the decisive upper hand before the premature end.

Bankfoot have a tricky away match at Pudsey Congs who have the experienced Yasir Ali able to dig out any demons in the wicket.

Leaders Batley will be expected to beat Wakefield St Michael’s despite their improved form of late. St Michael’s were the only side in the relegation scramble to gain a precious bonus point, as well as the abandonment points last week. They took three wickets in their abandoned game against Morley.

Morley was many pundit favourites to gain promotion this season, but their progress was checked a fortnight ago by Gomersal.

Their bowling strength should be too strong for Ossett with overseas player Akash Senarathna proving to be the most productive. However, Ossett are sterner opposition then they were a few weeks ago.

Baildon are a little too far away from the promotion challengers now, but aim to finish as high as possible to attract new players for another go next season. Blair Oakley and Jonny Reynolds should carry too much class for East Bierley who have been on a bad run.

In Ompal Boken and Gulsheraz Ahmed, they have the players to get that couple of wins that will steer them away from the relegation zone; it is a matter of conjecture whether one of them will be at Jenny Lane.

Keighley are another side that have fallen onto the fringes of the relegation dog-fight. However, they have a great opportunity this weekend to draw away from second bottom Wakefield St Michael’s when they go to bottom side Scholes.

This is not a formality given that the last time out Scholes beat East Bierley, but players of the calibre of Paul Quinlan and Alex Antoine should be able to see Keighley home.

The Hartshead Moor v Gomersal fixture is a classic mid-table affair with both sides successfully climbing well away from the relegation scramble.

Championship One Fixtures: Wakefield St Michael's v Batley, Baildon v East Bierley, Pudsey Congs v Bankfoot, Scholes v Keighley, Hartshead Moor v Gomersal, Ossett v Morley.

Championship Two

The rain might have destroyed many of last week’s matches, but there were some thrilling action seen in several truncated games.

Leaders Carlton were frustrated by the rain when chasing Adwalton’s 183-4 made from 32 overs. Adwalton’s Josh Bennett had anchored the innings with an unbeaten 76 and ensured a competitive total. In the 17 overs possible of Carlton’s reply they made an incredible 165-2, with Kershaski John Lewis scoring an unbeaten 104.

Second-place Birstall could not take advantage of Carlton’s ill luck when they were defeated by East Ardsley in a bizarre score line.

Birstall made 125-1 after 22.3 overs and declared their innings at that point, and East Ardsley knocked them off with eight down using 24.5 overs. Josh Haynes scored 55 with the bat, and took 4-36 with the ball to incredibly finish on the losing side.Ironically, Birstall gained more points by playing and losing than being abandoned.

The most sensational match occurred at Hopton Mills where Spen Victoria was allowed 47 overs to total 183-7, largely thanks to Bilal Ejaz’s unbeaten 106.

 Hopton Mills scored at 11.62 runs per over to reach their target in 15.5 overs. Umar Abbas hit ten sixes in a 48-ball innings of 113, after taking 4-22 with the ball.

Carlton might have Kershaski John Lewis at the top of the batting averages with 805 runs at 161.00, but they are far from a one-man side. Daniel Ford and Daniel White are also prodigious run-makers, and Jonathan Rudge tops the league’s bowling.

This week they should be far too strong for a Hopton Mills side that nevertheless proved their mettle last week against Spen Victoria.

Second-place Birstall have a far trickier game when they go to Birch Lane to play an improving Bowling Old Lane side. Old Lane can fire with the bat in thrilling fashion, but can also implode on occasions.

Third-place Yeadon will be hoping that Old Lane do them a favour as they face Jer Lane alongside the Tarn. Jer has been on a good recent run, and their seamer Amjid Khan is capable of posing problems for the Yeadon batsmen. Yeadon’s leg spinner James Massheder can be his side’s lynchpin with the ball.

Buttershaw St Paul’s have probably too much to do now to enter the promotion race, but should be too good for Altofts who occupy one of the relegation places.

St Paul’s have a strong batting unit headed by James Crossland (565 runs), Kevin McDermott (414 runs) and Amer Ayoub (383 runs), but lack penetrative bowling to propel them into the top two.

If Altofts can cause an upset they could bring Hopton Mills and East Ardsley into the relegation mix, and give breathing space to themselves.

East Ardsley dare not lose their match with second-bottom Liversedge, and will be wary of Sohail Hussain, who is capable of a match-winning innings.

Adwalton will need to win at Spen Victoria to keep their survival hopes alive. They are competitive most weeks and in Josh Bennett and Ghulam Hussain have two players who won’t lay down and accept their fate.

Hunslet Nelson is at home to Northowram Fields in a mid-table battle that points towards a very tight game. Both sides have greater strength in their bowling which points towards a moderate scoring match.

Championship Two Fixtures: Altofts v Buttershaw St Paul’s, Bowling Old Lane v Birstall, Spen Victoria v Adwalton, Carlton v Hopton Mills, East Ardsley v Liversedge, Yeadon v Jer Lane, Hunslet Nelson v Northowram Fields.

Conference

The two matches that survived the rain featured the top two who made no mistake in truncated games.

 Leaders Sandal had Ryan Bishop-Perrett (5-19) skittling Crossbank Methodists for 87, while Cullum Jordan
(4-21) did the same for Great Preston who dismissed Heckmondwike & Carlinghow for 90.

Both targets were knocked off very quickly to defy any pending rain.

It’s ironic that Gildersome & Farnley Hill are unbeaten and yet 65 points behind leaders Sandal. However, their unbeaten run will be tested this weekend when they face Sandal, who have lost one league match, but have a 33 point lead over second place Great Preston.

Both sides have powerful batting- Matthew Westwood, Danny Riley and Kristian Shuttleworth for Sandal, and Reece Thompson and Adam Campion for Gildersome.

But, the bowling penetration will be crucial and Sandal has Ryan Bishop-Perrett and Sam Noden at the top of the league averages, and partnership breaker Lee Geldard at first change.

Great Preston should have too many `big players’ for Brighouse with Tyson Freeman, James Marston and Cullum Jordan all enjoying high calibre seasons.

Brighouse’s Quadratullah Azizi is their most productive player, but he’ll need batter support to make things tough for Great Preston.

Oulton have probably underachieved a little this season given they possess players of the ability of Jonathan Henshaw, Matthew Boucher and Jack Andrews. Although they are in a high ranking position, their expected push for promotion has not materialised.

They should maintain their fourth position after they have visited Rodley this weekend. However, the home team has made a definite progression this season, and the core of the team includes players like Robert Young, Gary Sagar, Lachlan Roach and Ryan Callis who can all make a difference.

The Crossbank Methodists v Heckmondwike & Carlinghow basement match will obviously bring relief to one of the strugglers. Crossbank will always have a chance with Imran Patel in their side, while Heckmondwike can say the same about Syed Bukhari.

Conference Fixtures: Brighouse v Great Preston, Crossbank Methodists v Heckmondwike & Carlinghow, Gildersome & Farnley Hill v Sandal, Rodley v Oulton. Free: East Leeds, Windhill & Daisy Hill

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