PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE cricket chairman Paul Hutchison is urging his side to ‘go hard’ in the league between now and the end of the season – despite accepting that their title race is run.
After finishing second to Cleckheaton last term, hopes were high in the corridors of power at Tofts Road that Saints could make a concerted effort to go one step further – and give themselves a chance of lifting the Bradford League top-flight championship for the first time since 1991.
That ultimately has proved not to be the case, with their defeat to near-neighbours Farsley last weekend putting the fourth-placed Red Laners level on points with them.
This despite the best efforts of Chris Marsden who top-scored in Saints’ 141-6 with 70 not out, only for Farsley to reply with 143-4 in the rain-affected twenty-over encounter.
While conceding the title to Cleck, 35 points clear and destined to regain the title barring an unmitigated disaster in the final month of the campaign, Saints have plenty to play for and not just the forthcoming Priestley Cup final date with their Moorend rivals at Undercliffe on August 24, according to Hutchison.
He wants a second successive runners-up spot to hopefully go with the Priestley Cup in the trophy cabinet, with notions of the league season petering out scoffed at by him.
In that sense, tomorrow’s derby home clash with Pudsey Congs is perhaps represents an opportune fixture for James Smith’s side.
Hutchison said: “We finished in second place last year and are hoping to progress year on year and to be where we are at is anything but progression and not a good thing.
“We need to finish hard and also have a cup final to gear up for and want to be on an upward curve for the final and if we get a good result in that, we can finish the season hard too.
As for the destination of league silverware, it’s all over bar the shouting for Hutchison.
He added: “It’s their’s (Cleckheaton’s). If they don’t win it now, they have had an absolute disaster!
“There’s five games left and they are nearly forty points clear.
“If you get a 15-point win and they lose, they can still pick up five or six points and you are only gaining ten points.
“They virtually have to lose every game and they are too well greased a machine to do that. They have deserved to win it and have played the better cricket.”
Cleck can take another big step to securing the title by winning at near-neighbours East Bierley and intensifying their toils at the bottom in the process.
Second-placed Woodlands –after two straight losses – visit Farsley, while rock-bottom Yeadon welcome New Farnley and Hanging Heaton go to Lightcliffe. Struggling Morley visit Bradford and Bingley.
A huge fixture in the top-flight of the Aire-Wharfe League sees leaders Otley host closest rivals Burley.
Elsewhere, defending champions Beckwithshaw go to Guiseley and Kirkstall visit Steeton.
Collingham host Rawdon, Bilton entertain Ben Rhydding and Pool are at home to Ilkley.
Central Yorkshire League Premier leaders Methley visit Birstall tomorrow, in a dress rehearsal for the Jack Hampshire Trophy final on August 17.
Yorkshire Academy, 14 points clear at the top of the ECB Yorkshire League, visit Castleford.
Pontefract League leaders Ackworth welcome Old Sharlston, with double-chasing South Kirkby making the short trip to Hooton Pagnell.