THE businesS end of the Bradford League is somewhat unforgiving – just ask New Farnley.
The West Leeds outfit started the Division One campaign with upwardly-mobile intentions.
But in what is building up to be the most competitive battle for honours in years, Mark Lawson’s side have a bit to ponder after being turned over by several heavyweights.
Saturday proved a case in point when they pushed champions Cleckheaton in a spirited showing, only to ultimately fall short at the death at Moorend, losing by nine runs.
Cleck opened with 271, with Andrew Gorrod hitting a super 134 – leg-spinner Lawson claiming 5-58.
Farnley fell just short at 262-9 with Yorkshire wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd again in the runs with 48 along with Matthew Good (51) and Nick Walker (49).
As it stands, Farnley, who brought in the likes of another county man in James Middlebrook in the close season, are joint-fifth, 45 points behind leaders Pudsey St Lawrence.
Cricket secretary Neil Stokoe said: “We are a bit disappointed.
“We have lost three league games, albeit closely, to Woodlands, Cleckheaton and Pudsey St Lawrence, although that was a game we felt should not have been played as it was raining and it was a bit of joke.
“But you want to test your mettle against the top guys and we have been found wanting.
“Last year, we finished fifth and we are joint fifth at the moment.
“There’s a long way to go, but it’s a bit disappointing as we had a really good win at Bradford and Bingley and a good win over Undercliffe at home.
“The quality is there, but we need to be consistent. To be honest, we didn’t bowl well on Saturday.
“Week in, week out, there’s no soft options in this division, although we already have played the ‘big three’ so far.”
An outstanding start to the campaign continued for leaders St Lawrence (230-5) with a five-wicket win at Lightcliffe (224-5).
Chris Marsden (54) top-scored for St Lawrence, who chased down their target with seven balls to spare.
Woodlands (143-9) are 25 points behind in second after a tense four-run victory in a low-scoring game with Bradford and Bingley (139) at Albert Terrace.
Grant Soames (4-35) and Chris Brice (3-55) helped Woodlands defend their low total.
Hanging Heaton (249-3) are up to fourth after a fine seven-wicket win at Pudsey Congs (248-4).
A classy first-wicket stand of 181 between Nick Connolly (123no) and Gary Fellows (73) laid the platform for the Tewits.
Earlier, the runs had flowed at the Britannia Ground for home batsmen Gareth Phillips (91no) and Nick Lindley (55), but ultimately to no avail for Congs.
THERE was welcome respite for Farsley, who claimed their first league win of the season at the eighth time of asking in a priceless eight-wicket triumph against East Bierley.
Opening, Bierley were dismissed for 145, with Jack Hendy, fresh from his exploits on Bank Holiday Monday, following up with a fine 6-44, well supported by Chris Henry (4-43).
Replying, the Red Laners reached 146-2, with opener Matthew Green hitting an excellent unbeaten 71.
There was a surprise at the top of Division Two with leaders Morley seeing their lead whittled down to 10 points after a first defeat of the campaign – at Gomersal.
Morley paid the price for a lacklustre showing with the bat, which saw them back in the pavilion for 139, with their only contributions of note coming from captain Matt Baxter (36) and Dave Nebard (27).
Josh Fell took an impressive 4-27 for Gomersal, whose main men with the bat were Graham Hilton (45) and Jack Seddon (32no) as they reached 145-5. Matthew Dowse claimed 4-58 for Morley.
Scholes (148-3) cashed in on Morley’s slip-up with a five-wicket triumph over struggling Keighley (144-9).
Daniel Cross (5-39) and Atif Zaidi (3-24) did the business with the ball for the New Popplewell Lane outfit, with Zaidi backing up with a well-crafted 58.
Also in the runs for the victors was Toby Thorpe (40no).
After triumphing against Hartshead Moor in the Priestley Cup, Yeadon claimed the league spoils by way of a welcome 27-run triumph.
Oliver Stephenson (70) and James Goldthorp (50) were Yeadon’s leading lights with the bat as the hosts totalled 228-6, batting first.
Replying, Moor, for whom Danny Squire took 4-46, fell short at 201-8, despite the best efforts of their overseas Arun Balasubramanian (43no).
Oliver Halliday and Altaf Mohammed took three wickets apiece.
Adal Islam (71), Peter Jackson (56), Abid Awan (52no and 3-24) and Oliver Davison (49) helped fourth-placed Spen Victoria (278-6) to victory over Idle (180).