Woodlands suffered Yorkshire Premier League Play-Off final heartache for the second time after going down to a six -defeat against Castleford at Emerald Headingley.
For a team that suffered a three-run loss to Sheriff Hutton Bridge in the 2019 final it was another unhappy ending after a gripping encounter.
Three of the last four finals have produced winning margins of six runs or less and this was another match which had all the Headingley drama.
Castleford were deserving winners, but Woodlands came close to snatching the game late on, particularly when Elliot Richardson and Greg Finn were adding 64 for the eighth wicket.
Castleford are a confident side and from the moment David Wainwright won the toss and elected to bat first on the hybrid pitch, they were determined to play the match on the front foot.
The blue skies and warm sunshine made for perfect batting conditions. Chesney Hughes, who made 270 not out on his previous appearance at Headingley for Derbyshire in 2013, was quickly into his stride.
Chesney Hughes got Castleford off to a flying start with his 61. Picture: Ray Spencer
He and opening partner Liam Hyde soon had the scoreboard ticking over nicely as they shared a stand of 103. Hughes was the dominant partner with a six and seven fours punctuating his 61 before left arm spinner Chris Brice removed both batsman in quick succession. Hyde went first for 43, trapped lbw, while Hughes was bowled five runs later.
Brice bowled intelligently and quietened the run rate. Brayden Clark (34) and Wainwright (29) added useful runs as the Woodlands bowlers exerted an element of control through Brice and Kez Ahmed.
A late flurry from Chris Briggs (25) saw Castleford finish on 241-9. It was an extremely competitive total but not as big as looked likely when Hughes and Hyde were together.
Woodlands needed a solid start but lost Sam Frankland earlier. Tim Jackson – who scored a century when the sides met in the Heavy Woollen Cup earlier this season – rug in with skipper Cieran Garner who was filling the massive void at number three left by the return home of Brad Schmulian.
They started cautiously and were just beginning to assert themselves when Jackson was caught behind by Alex Kaye from the bowling of Ed Morrison.
Man of the Match Jack Young took 5-54 for Castleford. Picture: Ray Spencer
Liam Collins, who made 87 in the 2019 final, was quickly into his stride and was looking likely to play a decisive innings when he became the first of five victims for spinner Jack Young and departed for 32. When Garner was run out for the same score soon after, Woodlands were struggling.
Scott Richardson and Tom Clee were dismissed cheaply by Young to leave Woodlands hoping for another explosive innings from Muhammad Bilal.
Two big sixes suggested he might be in the mood before a moment of brilliance brought his innings to a close. He drilled the ball back at Connor Hyde with great power and the bowler clung on to an instinctive right-hand catch.
Woodlands looked down and out at 159-7, but Elliot Richardson and Greg Finn weren’t giving up the fight. Richardson hit a six and five fours while making 40 and Finn gave good support with an intelligent knock of 23.
They took the score to 223 before Richardson tried one big hit too many and was caught on the boundary. When Finn suffered the same fate later in Young’s over, it left the last pair of Kez Ahmed needing to score 17 from seven balls.
Ahmed gave them hope by hitting Young’s final ball for four as the man of the match finished with figures of 5-54.
Thirteen were required from the final over with Hughes given the responsibility of bowling it after his semi-final heroics.
Brice took one from the first ball before Ahmed found the ropes with a powerful drive. Hughes responded with three dot balls before a single off the final delivery left Castleford winners by six runs.
As Castleford celebrated joyously, Woodlands looked disconsolate. This was the cup they desperately wanted to win in Garner’s final game as captain.
Defeat will hurt but they can take consolation from having contributed greatly to a gripping contest which kept the shirt sleeve crowd thoroughly entertained in the September sunshine.
At the end of a challenging season for all involved in the game the final has given us a fitting finale.
Castleford captain David Wainwright lifts the White Rose Trophy Picture: Ray Spencer
The Castleford team celebrate their victory Picture: Ray Spencer