IT’S now or never in Morley’s Division One safety mission, according to skipper Matt Baxter, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.
The Scatcherd Lane men find themselves precariously placed in a dicey looking second-from-bottom spot in the top-flight of the Bradford League, with Baxter believing they need to win their final three games to stay up.
It’s may be the tallest of orders, given that Morley are without a league win since May 26 following an horrendous summer and have lost their last 10 completed league games, but a decent-looking fixture itinerary provides just an inkling of hope.
First up are Pudsey St Lawrence at home, with Saints heading into the game on the back of a three-match losing streak, which has seen them skittled for an abject 56 at New Farnley and also suffer morale-sapping losses to Pudsey Congs and New Farnley.
Following that, Morley travel to rock-bottom Yeadon and finish off on September 6 at home to struggling Lightcliffe.
Survival may still be unlikely and while Morley are philosophical regarding the extent of their task, the spirit is still strong – even accounting for their horror run, with their latest defeat a particularly damaging result to relegation rivals East Bierley. Baxter, whose side are 29 points adrift of safety, said: “Looking at the points as they are, it’s a pretty simple equation.
“It’s about getting a positive result on Saturday and taking it from there.
“Realistically, looking at it, we are going to have to win all three.
“We have just had such an awful run of results, really.
“You get to a point like Saturday and think: ‘Are we going to get over the line?’ and we just need a win to give us some positivity for the rest of the season.
“It is just not happening for whatever reason. But we will keep going.
“The good thing about last Saturday was that even after that, we are still a strong unit. No-one is falling out and we are all sticking together and you don’t see that at a lot of clubs in our position when there’s falling out and carrying on.”
Despite their predicament, Morley are already planning for next season, regardless of what happens during the rest of the season and have signed overseas man Kashif Naveed for 2015.
This season may have, comparatively speaking, been the famine after the feast for the all-rounder, third in the top-flight bowling averages with 40 wickets at 14.88 in 2013 and in the top-ten batting averages at 43.38, but Morley feel that while form is temporary, class is permanent.
Baxter added: “From a club point of view, whatever happens this year, we will try and strengthen in moving forward.
“We have re-signed Kashif Naveed for next season, regardless of status and if the worst does happen, we will be looking to bounce back straightaway.
“We have a good core and are strong behind the scenes with a good structure in place and if we do go down, we will come back stronger.
“Kashif has not really fired this year and has been a bit off. But he’s still a class act and he will also come back stronger.”
While Morley are mindful if they lose and results go against them, they could be relegated by close of play tomorrow, the situation is identical for basement boys Yeadon, who face a win-or-bust game at Pudsey Congs.
At the top, Cleckheaton, 22 points clear, face the first leg of a huge weekend at home to Lightcliffe, with nearest rivals Woodlands welcoming neighbours East Bierley, who are still not out of the relegation woods.