There is a change of order at the top of the Premier Division with New Farnley (127pts) leading Pudsey St Lawrence (126)by one point, with Hanging Heaton (108 pts) in third place.
The big match at Lawns Lane last week between New Farnley and Pudsey St Lawrence went the way of the home side in a surprisingly easy eight-wicket victory.
Occasional off-spinner Simon Lambert (6-49) put the brakes on St Lawrence when they appeared to be batting New Farnley out of the game. Instead, they had to settle for 228-9 in which the home team reached in some comfort with Martin Andersson (115no), Lambert (51) and Andrew Hodd (48no) leading the way.
New Farnley visit Methley who upset title contenders Hanging Heaton when they won by three-wickets at Bennett Lane. Skipper Grant Soames had a remarkable match scoring 75 runs after taking four vital wickets for 50, but it was their overseas quick bowler Waqas Ahmed (6-64) that restricted the home side to a realistic target.
Ahmed might have started the season late at Methley, but he is making a massive impact taking 22 wickets in five matches, and putting the early batsmen under pressure.
Soames, who has been in a rich vein of form this season with bat and ball is mindful of the challenge of facing in-form New Farnley-
“They have 'invested' well during the off season and look a very well-balanced side. The rivalry between both sides is very healthy dating back to the Central Yorkshire League days. They have quality players throughout the side, with most having county experience and the odd England cap! We are looking forward to the challenge and we certainly won’t take a backward step.
“We are looking forward to the challenge and as we showed last week we don't fear anybody, and on our day we can beat the very best. By the end of June, we will have faced Hanging Heaton (league and cup), New Farnley, Pudsey St Lawrence and Wakefield Thornes, which will certainly give us an idea of how far we have come since gaining promotion to the Premier League!”
Pudsey St Lawrence visit relegation haunted Scholes who were not disgraced at Woodlands. They are putting up some stern resistance most weeks and Aditya Waghmode certainly gave Woodlands something to think about with an innings of 41 and a bowling spell that netted four wickets.
Hanging Heaton’s loss of league form continued with their defeat by Methley, despite Callum Geldart’s innings of 85. Their inability to defend a score of 246 will certainly ring alarm bells at Bennett Lane, and they will be desperate to make amends when they visit Wagon Lane to play an unconvincing Bradford & Bingley.
The Wagon Lane side fell to a 128-run defeat last week to Farsley with only Jack Hartley (4-66) and Ed Brown (36) making tangible contributions.
Farsley have risen to fourth after this win, and will be powerful opponents for Lightcliffe if they replicate their batting form of last week. Skipper Ryan Cooper, who hit a six and 16 fours, shared in two century partnerships. Dan Hodgson (55) added 110 with him for the fourth wicket while Pat Kruger (56) helped add 102 for the fifth wicket in a total of 258-8.
Lightcliffe’s charge up the table came to an abrupt end as Townville defeated them by five wickets.
Woodlands batting form picked up last week when they recorded a winning 231-7 target, with Tim Jackson (78) and Cieran Garner (66no) being the major run-getters. However, their bowling was unconvincing until left-arm spinner Chris Brice (6-54) got to work.
They face bottom side East Bierley at Albert Terrace in a clash which is far from being a foregone conclusion. The South View Road side has had some plucky performances of late and should have beaten Methley before they broke their duck last week by beating Cleckheaton.
Bierley’s Ibrar Younis was the man who had Cleckheaton in all kinds of trouble with a bowling spell of 5-29 as Cleckheaton were sunk for just 84 in reply to East Bierley’s modest 133. Tail-ender Taufeeq Ahmed’s late 21 proved vital for East Bierley after left-armer Josh Thurwell impressed again for Cleckheaton with 5-38. Former Bierley all-rounder Nick Walker backed him up with 4-43.
It will be difficult for Cleckheaton to get back on track when they face Townville this weekend. After an unimpressive start to the season the Castleford-based side are now recording vital wins. The latest victory was against in-form Lightcliffe with excellent performances from Brayden Clark (70) and Richie Bresnan who finished with 4-17, but they have been dealt a body blow with the news that skipper Jack Hughes has suffered a broken leg.
Fixtures: Scholes v Pudsey St Lawrence, Methley v New Farnley, Bradford & Bingley v Hanging Heaton, Lightcliffe v Farsley, Cleckheaton v Townville, Woodlands v East Bierley.
It’s tight at the top with Wrenthorpe (119 pts) leading Undercliffe (118 pts) by one point and Morley a further six points back in third place.
Wrenthorpe had an impressive 226-run win over Batley, with seamers Awais Ejaz (7-25) and Jonathan Rudge (3-20) again delivering, after opener Jordan Sleightholme had scored a fine innings of 119. This weekend they go to Hunslet Nelson who lost to Gomersal last week.
Century maker Sleightholme, who is also the club captain, has this to say about how things are going at Wrenthorpe.
“After the disappointment of missing out on promotion last year in the ‘winner takes all’ last game of the season against Scholes, we have talked a lot about doing the right things to try and put it right this year.
“Having lost three key players from last year with Greg Wood moving back to old club Shepley, Chris Leaf hanging his boots up, and Matt Holstein returning to his native New Zealand, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, and particularly early on as people worked out their roles.
“This wasn’t helped by finding out two weeks before the season began that our overseas, Darryl Hendricks, who’d scored 1,000 runs for us two seasons in a row previously, was no longer coming, due to cricket commitments back home.
“Fortunately, we were able to sort a late replacement for Darryl and signed Mehran Ibrahim who has fitted in well and played a couple of good knocks for us so far. We also got a great addition in Sam Storr from Wakefield Thornes who has been superb behind the sticks and sets the tone.
“Also we have Matty Race who is now playing `week in week out’ with the firsts. He feels like a new signing and has shown so far how valuable he is to the team with his destructive hitting and canny bowling”.
“Despite a loss at Morley where we were outplayed, we’ve made a great start to the season with everyone contributing at different points. I think the biggest praise so far would have to go to our two opening bowlers who have been quality week in week out and are fully deserving of their wicket hauls.
“As we get further into the season, we will be hoping to continue our form and be challenging at the top of the table come the end of the season”.
Sleightholme added: “The old adage of taking it one game at a time is crucial though and everyone is for now focused on making sure we leave Nelson with a win on Saturday.
“We know a lot about them with them being an ex-CYCL team too,and have had some good tussles with them over the years, and we will be trying to make sure that we make it as difficult as possible for ex-Wrenthorpe man Will Stiff and his men come Saturday.They’ve obviously got a few players that could really hurt us if we’re not on top form!”
Gomersal’s recent form has taken them to fourth and they may well give second-place Undercliffe a tough game at the weekend. Undercliffe successfully chased Ossett’s score of 160 with Michael Kelsey scoring 58 after the consistent left-arm seamer Craig Wiseman had returned figures of 4-36.
Undercliffe remain the only undefeated side in the division as they look to further their promotion chase.
Third-placed Morley were involved in a titanic struggle with Pudsey Congs last week at Scatcherd Lane where they shaded it by four runs. The unsung Reggie Thomas made his highest score for Morley of 76, while their overseas player Sanga Cooray made 47 runs in a total of 230-9.
Morley go to the improving Bankfoot who beat Yeadon by 102-runs. Bankfoot skipper James Lee took 8-26, and there were also a good performance from Jawad Waheed who scored 53.
Pudsey Congs have been on the wrong end of some close affairs this season, and their four-run defeat by Morley illustrated that. In-form opener James Ford, who scored a fine 94, will be hoping to add to his tally against bottom side Ossett.
Paul Malone (47) and Ian Philliskirk (40) battled hard for Ossett against Undercliffe, but needed more support to force their first win.
Batley’s troubles deepened last week as Wrenthorpe dismissed them for 46. They face a Baildon side that lost to Hartshead Moor by 72 runs.
Yeadon are in need of a lift when they go to Hartshead Moor. They are now entrenched in the bottom two after their convincing defeat at the hand of Bankfoot. However, they will be encouraged by the form of their young bloods Sam Massheder (51) and James Massheder (3-55) who showed some stern resistance.
Hartshead Moor is gradually breaking away from the relegation zone after their impressive win over Baildon. Their batting had a more solid look about it with Craig Field (77) and Ali Shan (49) scoring the vital runs.
Fixtures: Yeadon v Hartshead Moor, Batley v Baildon, Hunslet Nelson v Wrenthorpe, Undercliffe v Gomersal, Pudsey Congs v Ossett, Bankfoot v Morley.
Leaders Keighley, who face East Ardsley, had Paul Quinlan in great form in their 53-run win over Carlton. He made an unbeaten 31 to rescue his side from 84-7 and followed up by taking 5-21 as Carlton were dismissed for 101 in reply to Keighley’s 154.
East Ardsley’s early challenge at the top has faded, and their latest setback was against Northowram Fields who had previously not won a match. James Marston hit an unbeaten 88 in an inadequate East Ardsley total of 171.
There was consolation the next day for East Ardsley when they beat Welton by 50 runs in the National Village Cup to reach the last 32.
In second place, Wakefield St Michael’s ares still keeping the pressure on leaders Keighley after beating Liversedge by 126-runs with opener Mark Atkinson scoring 105. They play Altofts who were on the wrong end of a 255-run hammering by Birstall.
Bowling Old Lane are the next team to face a rampant Birstall side that has shown title form of late. Last week’s demolition of Altofts was down largely to their virtuoso all-rounder Josh Haynes who scored his second-successive century, finishing with 168, and followed up with a bowling analysis of 5-21.
Old Lane set Brighouse a target of 255-5 with Ahsan Butt hitting an unbeaten 104, and Zeeshan Haider (73no), but could not defend it as they went down by two-wickets.
Butt is having a very productive season at Birch Lane, and he is currently the leading scorer in the division with 339 runs at 84.75.
Brighouse, who play lowly Spen Victoria, are rising fast and showed promotion form in beating old rivals Bowling Old Lane. Azad Mahmood (63), Chris Wynd (50) and Deron Greaves (47) all stuck to their task in chasing down 255-5.
Spen Victoria were well beaten by a Hopton Mills side who had Mark Ashton (50no*), Chris Scott (48) and Michael Carroll (4-45) making telling contributions.
Hopton Mills are at home to Northowram Fields who climbed three places after defeating East Ardsley by six wickets to register their first win. Batsmen Dru Patel (61) and Kyle Welsh (56no) were instrumental to their side’s success in reaching their 171 target.
Liversedge are now bottom despite Samar Farooq’s battling 55 in their heavy defeat against Wakefield St Michael’s. It won’t be any easier on Saturday when they face a Buttershaw St Paul’s side that are nicely placed for a promotion bid.
Carlton, who lost to Keighley last week, have an `open-date’ this weekend.
Fixtures: Wakefield St Michael's v Altofts, Brighouse v Spen Victoria, Bowling Old Lane v Birstall, Keighley v East Ardsley, Liversedge v Buttershaw St Paul’s, Hopton Mills v Northowram Fields, Free: Carlton.
The top three- Jer Lane (119 pts), Oulton (114 pts) and Adwalton (113 pts) appear to be the teams to catch in the promotion race.
Jer Lane are still riding high after beating Heckmondwike & Carlinghow by 61 runs with runs coming from Tom Watson (60), Raqeeb Younis (38) and Jonny Lister (34no). They face out of form Rodley at the weekend looking for maximum points.
Rodley suffered at the hands of Windill & Daisy Hill who registered their first victory of the season.
Windhill’s Dave Shaw made an unbeaten 44 and with Matthew Marshall (34) overhauled Rodley’s total of 151 with four wickets down. Joe Metcalfe (44) and Ryan Callis (33) were the top scorers for Rodley, while Shoaib Iqbal (3-25) and Ian Clayton (3-31) were Windhill’s most-successful bowlers.
Windhill Daisy Hill will find it much harder at high flying Adwalton who skittled out Crossbank Methodists for 72, largely thanks to Gareth Lee (6-10). However, there will be concern at Adwalton that their batting floundered and got home by just three-wickets.
Second- placed Oulton are still keeping the pressure on Jer Lane after their 72-run win over Sandal. Best performers for Oulton were Will Harrison (68), Matthew Boucher (53) and John Andrews (6-57). This weekend they go to East Leeds who is still striving for consistency.
East Leeds batsman Jacob Naylor had the distinction of making last week’s highest individual score in his side’s 94-run win over Great Preston. Naylor struck eight sixes and 21 fours as he made a stunning 172 which propelled his side to a total of 301.
Naylor, who has proved to be an inspired signing at East Leeds, is now the leading scorer in the division with 363 runs.
Azaad, who welcome Crossbank Methodists to Gaskell Sports, lost ground in regard to the top three after losing at Gildersome & Farnley Hill in a thrilling three-run defeat. Azaad’s Hanif Mahboob at one point put his side well on top with an innings of 79 runs, but his team finished tantalising short on 228-9.
Their opponents this weekend, Crossbank Methodists, nearly defended their poor score of 72 against Adwalton when James Abbott took 4-27, but they finally went down by three-wickets.
Gildersome & Farnley Hill have now leaped up the table to fifth after their impressive win against Azaad. They set a target of 231-8; a score owing much to the batting of Chris Harris (48) and Shoaib Rehman (39), and defended it well thanks to the efforts of Liam Pearson (5-65) and Ghulam Hussain (3-54).
They travel to Barnsley Road to play a Sandal side that are not quite playing to their potential. Last week they lost out to Oulton with batsman Kieran Shuttleworth (74) receiving little support in his side’s 131.
Heckmondwike & Carlinghow are now bottom despite showing lots of character against leaders Jer Lane. Chasing 264-8, their last pair Javed Iqbal (61no) and Andrew Crowther (38) put on 83 runs to take the score to a losing 203.
They face Great Preston this weekend who lost to East Leeds after chasing 301 runs.
Fixtures: Jer Lane v Rodley, Adwalton v Windhill Daisy Hill, Azaad v Crossbank Methodists, Sandal v Gildersome & Farnley Hill, East Leeds v Oulton, Heckmondwike & Carlinghow v Great Preston.
Top picture:Methley captain Grant Soames who has been in good form. Picture: Ray Spencer