SKIPPER Ben Morley says there will be no sour taste should his Otley side pip points-docked Beckwithshaw to the Aire Wharfe League crown.
Otley’s title chances looked to have been ended when the Cross Green side suffered a 27-run loss at home to Horsforth in their fifth-last game.
Leaders Beckwithshaw led Otley by 35 points with four weekends left but the gap was slashed to 15 after ’Shaw were dealt a 20-point deduction for repeated disciplinary issues.
The deficit was then cut further on Saturday as Otley took 19 points from a 39-run success at home to Rawdon as ’Shaw had to settle for taking 16 points in a 23-run triumph at Colton Institute. The gap is down to 12 points and the two teams will now lock horns at Beckwithshaw this coming weekend.
Morley knows his men have been handed an opening through a mixture of performances on the cricket pitch and Beckwithshaw’s disciplinary record but the Otley skipper would have no qualms with cashing in on the unexpected ‘bonus’ with both hands.
Morley explained: “It all got a bit mixed up with that points deduction but we just knew that we had to win our last four or five games. We slipped up against Horsforth but the points deduction has brought us back into it and gives us a chance to go for the league again. That’s a bonus for us and the person who gets the most points wins the league. That’s that.”
Otley strengthened their late charge with Saturday’s success at home to Rawdon, who were dismissed for 161 in pursuit of the home side’s 200-9.
Solid knocks from David Hester (52) and George Hartley (36) plus fine bowling from Chris Thomson (5-46) and Stephen Brown (5-66) proved essential to the cause.
“It looked convincing in the end but it certainly wasn’t,” admitted Morley. “The game went in both directions a couple of times and they had us 77-5 and we were on the ropes a bit.
“But Dave Hester and George Huntley batted superbly and then, bowling wise, I think they were about 60 needed and their Aussie was going well when they were about five down. It was in the balance again but Thommo produced another cracking spell of bowling so we managed to win it.”
The acid test at Beckwithshaw is next on the agenda and both teams will then finish with games against teams in the bottom half. Otley will host seventh-placed Guiseley on the final day with Beckwithshaw at third-bottom North Leeds.
Morley reasoned: “You only have to look at some of the teams that North Leeds and Guiseley have beaten this year to know that none of us can go into our last game thinking of it as a given. Guiseley have beaten good teams and so have North Leeds.
“I think, get this week out of the way and the result will be what it will be and then look at the last game, but there certainly won’t be any complacency going into the last game for either side.”
Guiseley took the scalp of third-placed hosts Burley on Saturday as a 35-run verdict ended the home side’s title hopes. Second-bottom Collingham’s relegation was also confirmed through a 34-run loss at home to Horsforth as third-bottom North Leeds recorded a 15-run success at home to fourth-bottom Ilkley. Fifth-placed slipped to a one-wicket loss at eighth-placed Pool while bottom side and already relegated Colton Institute.