IT may have been a pretty grim Division One season for East Bierley, but they haven’t half shaken up the title race.
For the South View Road outfit – one of the traditionally strong top-flight sides over a good many years – it has largely been a battle against the drop for a second successive season.
They have saved their best for lofty opposition, none more so than Saturday when they skittled near-neighbours and high-fliers Woodlands for just 73 en route to a four-wicket win on a proverbial day for the bowlers.
Pick of the Bierley attack was Awais Ejaz, who took 6-31 well supprted by and Richard Atkins (4-31) with ex-Woodlands man Nick Rushworth (31no) seeing them home in reply after they slumped to 58-6.
Previously, Bierley have lowered the colours of three other title-chasers in Pudsey St Lawrence, Cleckheaton and Hanging Heaton.
The upshot of their win on Saturday, allied to leaders Lawrence’s one-run loss in a thriller with Hanging Heaton is just 20 points now separate Pudsey from the fourth-placed Tewits.
Lamenting Woodlands’ loss at Bierley – when victory would have moved them top, secretary Brian Pearson said: “Bierley have now beaten all of the top four and they had one or two missing as well on Saturday, so it was a good performance.
“It has certainly made the competition even better with four in for it and New Farnley are not far behind either if they keep winning.”
On Saturday’s lame showing with the bat, he added: “It was, perhaps, a toss to lose rather than win.
“It wasn’t a 73 or a 75-6 wicket. But the Bierley bowlers did well early on, on what was a seaming wicket.
“We perhaps didn’t apply ourselves as well as we could have done and no-one really battled until Bricey (Chris Brice) came in and the last two put 30-odd on.
“But overall it was a poor batting performance.”
Lawrence’s last-wicket paring of Callam Goldthorp and Josh Wilson needed five from the last over to seal victory – but they managed just three with Wilson run out attempting to level the scores.
Opening, Heaton made 211 with Ishmail Dawood (41) top-scoring with Lawrence in trouble at 90-5 before Goldthorp (61no) and Barrie Frankland (49) instigated a rally, but to no avail.
Home skipper Gary Fellows took 3-12 for the Tewits.
Champions Cleckheaton (166-4) are now right back in the title frame after sinking Undercliffe (165) by six wickets, with in-form opener Andrew Gorrod hitting an unbeaten 112.
In the wickets were ex-Yorkshire player Ian Wardlaw (5-86) and Curtis Free (4-27).
A FINE ton from James Wainman couldn’t prevent relegation-haunted Farsley from suffering another blow in their battle to avoid the drop against Bradford and Bingley.
Opening, B&B hit an imposing 294-6 with Ryan Cooper striking a majestic 110 not out.
Yorkshire all-rounder Wainman (129no) did his level best to keep the Red Laners in contention in reply, but his team-mates failed to follow his lead as the visitors were dismissed for 239 – spinner Noman Ali taking 6-53.
Second-from-bottom Farsley are two points of Priestley Cup finalists Lightcliffe (120), who tumbled to a 112-run loss to Pudsey Congs (232-7), who claimed a spot of revenge for their recent semi-final loss.
Opener Callum Geldart struck an excellent 118 for Congs.
New Farnley (252-9) are handily placed in fifth and not out of title contention after a nine-run win over rock-bottom Saltaire (243), with Lee Goddard (62) and Mark Lawson (6-41) impressing.
Teenage batsman George Robson hit his maiden Bradford League ton, striking an unbeaten 101 as Division Two leaders Morley (247-3) claimed maximum points against Bowling Old Lane (101).
Robson put on 112 for the second wicket with Richard Jubb (67), with skipper Matt Baxter chipping in with 55.
Second-placed Scholes (160-0) moved 34 points clear of the side just below them, Baildon (156) after a ten-wicket whitewashing of the Jenny Laners.
Kasir Maroof (83no) and Toby Thorpe (60no) were in scintillating form.