THE lEAGUE table might not look great reading for Woodlands in their Division One title pursuit at present, but the last thing they will be doing is throwing in the towel.
A seminal week for leaders Cleckheaton ended in a keynote 21-run victory over their near-neighbours and close rivals on Saturday at Albert Terrace, putting John Wood’s side firmly in the box seat to regain the Division One championship and Woodlands having plenty to do.
The win for Cleck extended their advantage at the summit to 24 points with nine games to go and keeps them firmly on course for a trophy treble come the end of the season, but Woodlands are still determined to have a say yet.
Secretary Brian Pearson said: “Cleckheaton are looking a good confident side at the moment, although there is still a long way to go. We shall keep going as I am sure Pudsey St Lawrence will as well.
“Although we will probably need Cleckheaton to lose a couple now and they have played us and St Lawrence twice now, even though everyone will be wanting to chase them down.
“They are still in two cups, but have a lot to keep their momentum going, but certainly with the way they are playing at the moment, all credit to them in my view.
“They are a good balanced side with two good spinners in Tanveel and Andrew Deegan, but we will keep chipping away. We shall be there at the end.”
Woodlands lost the toss for a fourth time, with Cleckheaton electing to bat on a good wicket, mustering 243-7 – with Tim Jackson casting aside some indifferent form with a sturdy 70, putting on 104 in an impressive stand with Ian Nicholson (58) to provide backbone to Cleck’s card. It set the foundation for eventual match-winner Tanzeel Altaf, who continued his top-notch season with a flamboyant 56, with his game input proving the difference.
Replying, Woodlands fell short at 222, with the risk taken to ensure Grant Soames played not paying off.
A solid contribution from Simon Mason (53) was Woodlands’ most meaningful contribution, alongside a late flurry from Pieter Swanepoel (44no), but masterful bowling from Altaf, who bagged 6-63, allied to a few sublime catches ensured Cleck took the spoils.
Meanwhile, third-placed Pudsey St Lawrence suffered a disappointing 32-run loss to East Bierley, who claimed a psychological advantage for their forthcoming Priestley Cup semi-final encounter against them this coming weekend.
Bierley, who have flattered to deceive this season in the league, defended a total of 195, Gavin Hamilton (56) top-scoring and Steve Watts taking 4-43.
Replying, Saints were back in the showers for a modest 163, with Kez Ahmed taking 4-33.
Farsley (194-3) moved to within four points of Saints after a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Lightcliffe (193-6).
Ex-Headingley opener Joe Sayers saw Farsley through to the finish line with a splendid 109 not out.
Sayers put on 113 in an excellent second-wicket partnership with Ian Philliskirk (47), Alex Stead (59) top-scoring for Lightcliffe.
The inconsistent form of Hanging Heaton (135-9) continued as they lost by 32 runs to New Farnley (167-8), who eased their fears towards the bottom of the table in the process.
Mark Lawson (43) was in the runs against his old club along with Nicholas Johnson (44), with the efforts of Dan Busfield (3-48 and 42no) counting for nothing against his former employers.