Bradford League: Farnley do their talking on the oval

Elliott Herd
Elliott Herd
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NEW FARNLEY were fully entitled to view their last two fixtures with a certain degree of trepidation, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.

But proof that you play rival teams on the pitch and not on paper has been displayed in the shape of an impressive 23-point combined haul against big title favourites Cleckheaton and rivals Woodlands.

The latter were beaten by four runs in a dramatic game on Saturday, with Farnley also giving Cleck a run for their money the previous week.

Farnley may have done Cleck a big favour by beating nearest rivals Woodlands by four runs at the weekend, but they are more concerned about the good it has done for themselves.

The win for the seventh-placed side has seen them rise to the cusp of mid-table away from relegation danger and with games against Lightcliffe, East Bierley and Yeadon to come before season’s end, the potential remains for Farnley to maybe even clinch a top-five finish.

More especially with ex-Yorkshire spinner Ian Fisher and fit-again Lee Goddard back in harness.

Noteworthy contributions from skipper Mark Lawson (60no) and Nick Walker (4-33) saw Farnley (139-9) home against Woodlands (135-9) in a nip-and-tuck encounter.

Farnley secretary Neil Stokoe said: “If someone had said to me you are going to get 23 points from Cleckheaton at home and Woodlands away, I’d have bitten their hands off.

“The results went for us as well and there’s a bit of a gap growing. The fat lady is clearing her throat!

“The last two weeks have been very productive.

“I think we had seven second-teamers in the side against Cleckheaton and against Woodlands, I think only four of the side have not come through our ranks, which is pleasing in itself.”

On their maiden campaign in the top-flight, he added: “It’s all been a massive learning curve for us.

“I am disappointed to a certain extent in that we have had sides on the rack and then eight and nines have come in with 100 partnerships. That doesn’t happen in the CYL.

“We had Woodlands at 50-6 on Saturday and they put another eighty on for the last four wickets.

“But we have managed to beat Woodlands and Cleckheaton in the Heavy Woollen Cup. Our seconds are also top of their league and what has been pleasing is that they have chipped in at first team level, such as Nick Walker.

“Mark is bringing a lot of second Xi players into the first team and they are gelling well.”

The big beneficiaries of Farnley’s win were Cleckheaton, now an unassailable-looking 35 points clear, with another title-aspiring side in Pudsey St Lawrence also losing.

Saints (141-6) were second best in their derby with Farsley (147-3), for whom Barrie Frankland (61) and Joe Sayers (59) excelled.

The fourth-placed Red Laners are now level on points with Saints, whose best was Chris Marsden (70no).

The inimitable Tanzeel Altaf (3-21 and 45no) made mincemeat of relegation-haunted Morley, dismissed for 78 with Cleck (82-1) reaching their target in under nine overs. Iain Wardlaw bagged 5-32.

Rain forced the abandonment of the key basement tussle between Yeadon (180-5) and East Bierley (24-0).

David Stiff (52 and 5-46) came to the party with bat and ball as fifth-placed Hanging Heaton (222-7) accounted for Pudsey Congs (208-9).

England captain Joe Root, left, seen with Ben Stokes who returns to Test action this week (Picture: Nigel French/PA Wire).

Joe Root is facing up to the task of curbing Ben Stokes’s enthusiasm ahead of Test return