Struggling Cleck’ can’t afford to lose focus

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CLECKHEATON are giving short shrift to the phrase ‘too good to go down.’

It has been misery for the Moorenders so far in 2017, with Cleck, back-to-back Bradford League champions in 2013 and 2014, doing it tough, so much so that their top-flight status will be in serious peril if things don’t improve.

As it stands, John Wood’s side are just six points above second-from-bottom Batley and on the crest of a slump following five successive league defeats.

It is far from ideal heading into tomorrow’s tough trip to high-flying Farsley, with everyone connected with the club mindful of what could be further down the line in September if their slide is not arrested.

Secretary Bob Speight acknowledged: “The teams around us aren’t playing badly and there could be a huge change around in the bottom seven or eight and half a season is a long time to go.

“But we cannot say to ourselves: ‘We are too good to go down’ because we are not. We have seen that over the years.

“We have not quite replaced people who have left us and it is not easy to get the quality of players that you would want, while our good players are not performing quite as well as we would like, too.

“Like any sport, it is about having that confidence in your own ability to go out and do it. When we were winning titles, it just seemed easy. We went out on the field and did what we had to do and won.

“Now we are having to analyse things. Batsmen are wondering if they should go out and play their shots or if they should block for four or five overs. They are having to think more about the game, whereas it was coming naturally a few years ago.”

Despite another loss last weekend, Speight says Cleck should take heart despite opponents Woodlands getting over the line by four wickets on a day when the Moorenders faltering batting department functioned of sorts for once – with the Nicholson brothers, Ian and Mally, in the runs.

And despite Farsley being favourites tomorrow, Cleck can also take solace from their efforts in the reverse fixture, which also saw them push the Red Laners all the way before losing out with lower-order men Sam Wilson and Awais Ejaz batting superbly.

Speight added: “We will stay positive. We had a very good match against them at home and both sides got two good 200 plus totals and in the end, after looking way out of the match, we got within 20 runs of them.

“It was probably our best match of the season and our number ten pair put on 85 runs.

“We just need the batting and the bowling to all come together now.

“At least one or two applied themselves batting last weekend as it has been the bowling which has been our strength this season. But it let us down.

“We thought we were there after getting just short of 200 and had them at around 40-4. But we could not get all the way around and the overseas man, who has been taking wickets for fun all season suddenly dried up.”

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IT is an intriuging four-way fight for silverware in the Bradford League top-flight – and all of the leading quartet will be seeking to remain on course tomorrow with winnable looking fixtures.

While second-placed Farsley welcome Cleckheaton, leaders Hanging Heaton make the trip to Lightcliffe, while third-placed Woodlands – who booked their place in the Heavy Woollen Cup final last weekend at Townville’s expense – host neighbours East Bierley.

Champions Pudsey St Lawrence, who currently reside in fourth spot and are 18 points behind leaders Heaton, head to New Farnley, whose cricket manager is ex-St Lawrence cricket chairman Paul Hutchison.

All of the top four triumphed in the reverse fixtures earlier in the season with Heaton’s prolific batsman Nick Connolly scoring a ton to help the Tewits to a big 300-plus total in their success over Lightcliffe.

Meanwhile, Woodlands pair Tim Jackson and Jamie Pickering also recorded centuries to help their side breach 300 in their comfortable victory over Bierley in early May, putting on 224 in a massive second-wicket stand.

Both Woodlands and Heaton will be expected to keep up their charge tomorrow, alongside Farsley and St Lawrence, whose prolific top-order man Mark Robertshaw became the latest batsman to reach the 10,000 run landmark during the club ten-wicket Premier Division win over Lightcliffe last weekend.

Elsewhere, the bottom two square off in a huge game with hosts Batley welcoming Pudsey Congs, who now prop up the table. Townville host B&B.

In Championship A, frontrunners Scholes, 12 points clear, host Birstall, with second-placed Wrenthorpe also afforded home comforts against Baildon.

Methley, in third, host Gomersal and Morley entertain Bowling Old Lane.

Championship B leaders Hartshead Moor, whose 100 per cent start to the season was dramatically ended by Liversedge last weekend, play host to third-placed Northowram Fields, who they edged out by one wicket in the reverse fixture.

Second-placed Hunslet Nelson, who welcome Hartshead tomorrow week, make the trip to mid-table Carlton.

Hanging Heaton celebrate winning the Yorkshire Premier League.

Hanging Heaton add gloss to super season with Premier title