New Farnley did themselves a power of good last week as their main title rivals Woodlands and Townville were sidelined by Covid-19.
They took the maximum 20-points from their fixture with Hanging Heaton to reach the top with 215 points. Woodlands (212) and Townville (209) still have the advantage with their priceless game in hand.
Adam Waite hit a superb 147 not out after Ben Kohler-Cadmore had dropped him in the slips earlier in his innings. Waite paced himself beautifully before launching into some extravagant shots that brought him fives sixes and 15 fours. New Farnley defeated Hanging Heaton by 179 runs, after making a challenging total of 309-5.
An indication of the club’s strength in depth was illustrated by the absence of Dan Hodgson and Alex Lilley, and being able to bring in Mark Lawson who made telling contributions with both bat and ball.
New Farnley go to Wrenthorpe who lost their relegation battle with Morley last week.
Woodlands have a tricky looking away match at Red Lane to face a talented Farsley side that have flattered to deceive so far this season.
Townville have an away match with Hanging Heaton who continue to blow hot and cold. They have the batting to worry Townville, but will have to cope with the away side’s outstanding `game management’ in the field.
The title race might be fascinating, but the relegation scramble is now heating up too.
The bottom two, Morley and Batley, both beat teams in the lower regions to bring themselves closer to them.
Batley triumphed by one wicket with two balls to spare against Cleckheaton. Mohammad Hafeez, who scored a telling 26not out, hit the fourth ball of the final over from spinner Amir Hussain (5-44) for six to overhaul Cleckheaton’s total of 204-7.
Cleckheaton’s total was somewhat below par and could have been much worse if it wasn’t for the late inning played by Craig Fletcher (57no).
Morley’s experienced bowlers Nathan Bromby (4-26) and David Nebard (4-53) proved to be their trump cards as Wrenthorpe were bowled out for 117. Henry Rush (32no) ensured that Morley eased to their target and picked up 19 points to close the gap to third bottom Wrenthorpe to seven points.
Cleckheaton still have a little `points cushion’ above Wrenthorpe (113pts), Morley (106) and Batley (87), but can’t afford to breath easily.
They have another critical match this week when they visit Wagon Lane to take on a Bradford & Bingley side that has had a similar season to themselves. Both teams have talent in their ranks, but are yet to fire on a regular basis.
Bingley’s humbling defeat in the Priestley Cup Quarter-Finals against East Bierley could well prove to be an incentive to prove a point.
Batley have a home match with Pudsey St Lawrence who are in good shape in the league table. Last week St Lawrence’s openers Charlie Best (60no) and Mark Robertshaw (56) ensured their side had little trouble in securing an eight wicket win over Methley who they bowled out for 142.
Young prospects Josh Priestley (4-20) and Archie Scott (3-32) were the key bowlers as Methley were made to struggle when they batted first. The promising Eitan Litvin (55 runs) and skipper Tom Chippendale (46 runs) were their top scorers.
Methley are very vulnerable at times and Morley will be looking to expose this on Saturday. With Wrenthorpe having a difficult match with New Farnley this weekend; Morley could well overtake them with a decent points haul.
Premier Division: Batley v Pudsey St Lawrence, Methley v Morley, Wrenthorpe v New Farnley, Hanging Heaton v Townville, Farsley v Woodlands, Bradford & Bingley v Cleckheaton.
Bankfoot’s surge up the table gathers apace as they find themselves joint leaders with Ossett, with Birstall nine points behind in third place. Bankfoot have played a game more than their rivals, but are now genuine promotion contenders.
East Bierley has slipped back after their damaging defeat at Birstall. For Bankfoot, opener Hisan Ahmad was the key man as Bankfoot chased down Lightcliffe’s challenging 262-3. He hit four sixes and 17 fours while making an unbeaten 132.
Ossett were undone by a Carlton side who beat them by two-wickets, while Birstall beat rivals East Bierley after spinner Juned Delair had impressed with 7-50,
The big match this week is at Wicket’s Close where Bankfoot will try and put some daylight between them and promotion rivals Birstall.
Ossett are at East Bierley who on their day can score heavily at a fair run rate. They have the big time player in Ben Walter, right, who needed more support last week in his side’s defeat by Birstall. He top scored with 75 and was also the most successful East Bierley bowler with 4-62.
The Gomersal v Undercliffe match can now be regarded as a relegation clash. Gomersal were early pacesetters in the league, and Undercliffe were tipped to challenge for promotion, but they have both got into a rut of disappointing performances. Keighley have made something of a revival of late, and are now out of the basement places.
Skipper Max Davidson eased his side’s relegation fears and added to Hartshead Moor’s problems as he steered Keighley to a two-wicket win.
Davidson made an unbeaten 56 which enabled them to pass the visitors’ score of 175-7 with 11 balls to spare. He steadied the Keighley nerves after Josh Marsden (4-39) helped reduce them to 48-5.
Hartshead Moor are eleventh on 99-points, while Lightcliffe are at the bottom with 92-points. Undercliffe (118) and Gomersal (114) are the other teams in most danger.
Hartshead Moor will need to get something out of their match with Baildon, while Lightcliffe are at Pudsey Congs.
The big plus in Lightcliffe’s defeat last week was the remarkable innings of opener Subhaan Ammar who hit six sixes and 13 fours while making a fluent 119.
Pudsey Congs beat Undercliffe after Ryan Heptinstall (6-34) and Rishi Chopra (3-13) had exposed their inconsistent batting.
Keighley will have their work cut out to get anything at in-form Carlton who last week beat the leaders Ossett in a thriller.
An unbeaten ninth wicket stand of 56 between skipper Tom Taylor (36no) and Josh Thurwell (24no) proved crucial as Carlton edged to victory by two wickets, their fifth win on the trot.
Division One: Carlton v Keighley, Hartshead Moor v Baildon, Gomersal v Undercliffe, Pudsey Congs v Lightcliffe, Bankfoot v Birstall, East Bierley v Ossett.
Sandal’s loss against Northowram Fields has opened up the promotion race again as Jer Lane (173 pts), Sandal (163), Northowram Fields (162) and Hopton Mills (161) lead the way with Buttershaw St Paul’s having matches in hand to join the aforementioned.
Sandal lost the chance to return to the top of Division Two as they suffered a 52-run defeat against promotion rivals Northowram Fields.
Jason Smith took 5-21 as Northowram bowled out Sandal for 130 to complete a win that takes them into third place. Brandon Hewlett (56) continued his good form, but it was not enough to save the Wakefield side from defeat.
Farhan Hussain (55) and Kyle Welsh (39) were the men responsible for getting Northowram Fields to 191 when they batted first against a bowling attack in which Sam Noden (5-40) and Hewlett (3-62) bowled well.
Sandal have a home game with East Ardsley who succumbed to Hopton Mills last week. Hopton Mills beat East Ardsley by 97 runs after half centuries by Gary Senior (58) and Umar Abbas (54) had swelled the score to 223-8.
For Hopton Mills to build on this they will need to beat the leaders Jer Lane this weekend. This could prove to be beyond them given the strength in depth of Jer’s batting line up,
However, they do have the bowling of Michael Carroll and Umar Abbas to expose any chinks in the armoury of the early batting.
Northowram Fields have a great chance of closing in further on the top two as they go to Spen Victoria who just can’t close a game off.
Just when Bowling Old Lane were getting into a challenging position in the league they faltered again last week. This time it was at the hands of struggling Hunslet Nelson.
They defeated Bowling Old Lane by 14 runs with their teenage leg spinner Sam Thewlis taking 3-39. Old Lane was bowled out for a disappointing 158 in reply to Nelson’s 172-9.
Old Lane need to beat Buttershaw St Paul’s this week, but will have a difficult task against a team with several match winners looking to get their team into the top two,
Hunslet Nelson has an away game at Wakefield St Michael’s who lost by 4-wickets against Yeadon.
Despite this defeat they have batters in form- illustrated by Adil Mehmood who scored 81, and Ashley Hale (43).
Scholes will be desperate to beat Yeadon in their attempt to steer away from relegation. Yeadon have not done themselves justice this season and remain a dangerous side to play, as Wakefield St Michael’s found to their cost last week.
They beat St Michael’s last week by four wickets in pursuit of 195-7, with Muhammad Khan (60no), Gulsheraz Ahmed (54) and Asif Ayub (49) leading the way.
Division Two: Wakefield St Michael’s v Hunslet Nelson, Bowling Old Lane v Buttershaw St Paul’s, Spen Victoria v Northowram Fields, Sandal v East Ardsley, Hopton Mills v Jer Lane, Scholes v Yeadon.
Things get even better for Crossflatts as they beat their closest promotion rivals Brighouse by 54 runs, to extend their lead to 23 points.
Brighouse, after looking very good a few weeks ago, will be looking anxiously over their shoulders at Great Preston who are now only four points behind them after their four-wicket win over Liversedge.
They also have a game in hand and look likely promotion candidates given their recent form.
Crossflatts were indebted to Nathan Bradbury (55), Dominic Bennett (37) and Michael Bailey (36) as they posted a score of 230, despite the efforts of Parvaise Khan (6-58).
Khan (42) and Khurram Maqsood (37) led the way in the Brighouse innings, but Mayank Singh (3-34) and Wasim Hussain (4-38) performed well as the second-place side were bowled out for 176. Again, Parvaise Khan excelled with scant support from his colleagues.
Great Preston chased down the Liversedge total of 186 to record a four-wicket win after Ben Broxup (75) and Ian Newton (30) had done the business with the bat. Lee Russell (5-63) was the main man with the ball for Great Preston.
Brighouse need to collect maximum points from an Altofts side that go from bad to worse. Their latest defeat was at the hands of Windhill & Daisy Hill who at one stage of the season looked stranded at the bottom.
The leaders Crossflatts are at Adwalton, while Great Preston has a home fixture with Crossbank Methodists who remain fourth after their 79-run win over East Leeds.
James Lord hit 75 and Muhammad Shah (31) in Crossbank’s below par total of 188. However, this proved to be more than enough as the East Leeds batting collapsed to 109 after Arshad Jan (4-50) and Imran Patel (3-23) had got to work.
James Watling, who is the main bowler at East Leeds, provided the only resistance with 31 defiant runs. East Leeds could find salvation in their home match with Rodley who are now bottom.
Although Rodley lost last week they gave Heckmondwike & Carlinghow a real battle. They lost by three-wickets after posting a reasonable 206-7 with James Bradbury (46no), Callum Postle (33) and Robert Young (32) the main scorers.
Heckmondwike & Carlinghow had Fahad Imam (54no), Paul Cooper (41) and Usman Qureshi (41) up to the challenge. This week, Heckmondwike take on Gildersome & Farnley Hill who beat Adwalton last week.
After bowling out Adwalton for 109 (Jordan Edmondson 3-50), Gildersome were guided to their target by Mick O’Halloran (34no) and Josh Sturgess (30).
Windhill & Daisy Hill are showing more encouraging form as they climb off the bottom. Last week they defeated Altofts by two wickets with Matthew Marshall (41) the key man.
This week they welcome Liversedge to Busy Lane knowing that their visitors gave promotion candidates Great Preston a tough match.
Although they went down by four wickets, they had batters in form in Asad Mahmood (60) and Wasim Nazir (38).
Division Three: Brighouse v Altofts, Windhill & Daisy Hill v Liversedge, Great Preston v Crossbank Methodists, East Leeds v Rodley, Heckmondwike & Carlinghow v Gildersome & Farnley Hill, Adwalton v Crossflatts.