THE Ex-Factor came to haunt Hartshead Moor on Saturday – against the team they probably wouldn’t have wished it to – in their keynote Division Two derby meeting with Spen Victoria, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.
It was former Moor player and visiting captain Craig Woodhead who did much of the damage with the ball for Spen, taking 4-37 to dismiss the hosts for a modest 123, after the visitors opened with 175-6.
Just for good measure, Spen followed up with a 52-run success over Windhill, Robert Burton taking a magic 8-35 with the Gomersal-based side having now put a difficult start to the season well and truly behind them.
Hartshead, by contrast, are tailing off after a decent opening to the campaign yielded wins over – but with their junior section flourishing, secretary Phil Gooder insists the long-term foundations of the club are strong.
Just a pity that one of their old juniors in Woodhead ended up having the last laugh on Saturday against Moor, who lost by 21 runs to Bankfoot the following day.
Secretary Phil Gooder, who turned out for Moor in the derby clash on Saturday, said: “We had a good start this season, although we did target the first three games as an opportunity for us.
“But we’ve lost a bit of momentum with the weather and with the pitch being wet for the past two or three weeks, we’ve not had much chance to train.
“We were looking to get into the top four or five at the start of the season. But basically, it’s a slow rebuilding process based on the local lads and around the junior section.
“We run the juniors on a Friday night and six years ago, we had no junior teams and now we have 50 kids playing and enjoying cricket and the older ones are now in the second team.
“Craig is actually one of our ex-juniors and obviously did well for them. But we played a few silly shots as well and players got themselves out.”
While Moor copped two losses over the weekend and have dropped down to ninth, Spen are up to seventh place and finally on the move after last season’s near-miss in the promotion stakes.
Having lost several key players in the off-season, Spen stalwart Peter Jackson admits it was always likely to be a case of the side graudally finding their feet again after such disruption.
He added: “It has ben a bit of a rebuilding programme, but in the past few weeks, we have had a few players take on their former clubs and enjoyed a few wins.
“Obviously, we were disappointed to miss out on going up last season, having been pipped at the post.
“After that, we lost around five players with Tosh Baker leaving and Dan Shuffe wanting to play first-division cricket and Ben Platt also left, so that left us light in the batting and bowling a bit.
“This year, the aim is for a steady season and hopefully we are on the way to doing that.”
At the top, Undercliffe find themselves ten points clear of Saltaire and the side who currently look the most precariously placed team in terms of dropping into the second tier are Pudsey Congs.
A drama is most certainly turning into a bit of a crisis for the Britannia Ground outfit, whose winless streak in 2014 extended to eight matches after a 11-run loss to Lightcliffe.
The hosts defended their total of 183 with Congs bowled out agonisingly short and paying the price for another disappointing showing with the bat.
Mubtaba Akhtar (35), Andrew Bairstow (35) and skipper Gareth Phillips (30) all made starts, but couldn’t convert into a match-winning innings.
Suleman Khan led the way with a solid 58 for Lightcliffe.