Bradford League: Promotion battle is entering key phase

Actoin from the Heavy Woollen Cup semi-final between Woodlands and Pudsey Congs.
Actoin from the Heavy Woollen Cup semi-final between Woodlands and Pudsey Congs.
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MORLEY may be blazing a trail at the top of Division Two, but captain Matt Baxter is wary of the ‘silly season’.

The Scatcherd Lane men look set fair for a return to the top flight – they are 31 points clear of third-placed Baildon – yet Baxter is conscious that things can soon change as a definitive August approaches.

Morley trounced Brighouse by 233 runs in a powerhouse weekend show, Baxter (108no), Kashif Naveed (100no) and Matt Dowse (5-35) making hay.

But getting ahead of themselves is not in their mindset, according to Baxter, who says promotion is not yet a three-horse race involving themselves, Scholes and Baildon.

Baxter, whose side face a double-header against Bowling Old Lane and Hartshead Moor this weekend and who host second-placed Scholes on August 1, said: “We are getting to the point in the season now where you see some silly results as pressure is a funny thing.

“We have got to keep our focus and keep winning as there’s always players in opposition teams who can do damage and we have just got to keep going.

“There’s probably one or two more along with the top three who are in it. With Old Lane beating Baildon, they will still fancy their chances and I know Gomersal have won some decent games and we lost to them and they will still fancy it. It will start to take shape in the next few weeks.”

Offering his take on the campaign ‘in the round’ this far, Baxter, who believes that continuity has played its part in their strong riposte to a tough 2014, added: “We are really pleased.

“We had a tough season last year and the easy thing would have been to chop and change.

“But we had a strong spirit and wanted to keep that together as we felt we had the basis of a good young team with more to come from it.

“We have given a few an opportunities and they have gone really well.

“James McNichol has really stepped up, as has Ben Jenkinson along with Matthew Dowse. They are young players who are building on their own experiences.

“We have maintained the core of last season’s team and I think it was important that we got the monkey off our backs early in the season and got some wins on the board.

“The object is to get straight back up. We are halfway there, but there is lots of work still to do.”

Yasir Ali (7-26) was the star turn for second-placed Scholes (71-1), who crushed derby rivals Spen Victoria (70) by nine wickets.

A brilliant 138 from Jake Wray enabled Yeadon (273-7) to sink Idle (212-4), while captain Danny Squire (6-27) helped Hartshead Moor (78-2) see off Bankfoot (77).

Cup and league review

WOODLANDS will take on Hoylandswaine in the Heavy Woollen Cup final at Ossett on Sunday week after a thumping 134-run win over Pudsey Congs, writes LEON WOBSCHALL.

Woodlands (189) were in trouble at 64-5 before Jordon Laban (49) and Greg Finn (32) put on 73 for the sixth wicket.

In reply, just two Congs batsmen reached double figures as they were skittled for 55 after slumping to 39-8.

Sarfraz Ahmed bagged 4-10, with Duncan Snell (3-10) and Elliot Richardson (3-29) also in the wickets.

Saturday’s Bradford League action saw leaders Pudsey St Lawrence (244-8) move six points clear after a 104-run victory over Saltaire (140), with Mark Roberrshaw (65), Chris Marsden (65) and Adam Waite (51) in the runs.

Second-placed Woodlands (260-7) won a thriller against Hanging Heaton (259-7), getting home in the penultimate over, thanks to late striking by Laban (37no) and Ahmed (38).

Earlier, Gary Fellows (106) was in majestic form, putting on over 130 with Ishy Dawood (76).

Skipper John Wood (66) and opener Tim Jackson (63) were in the groove as champions Cleckheaton (235-7) maintained their faint title hopes with a three-wicket win over relegation-threatened Farsley (234-8) – despite a magic late burst from 16-year-old Red Lane debutant James Thorp (5-11).

Callum Geldart hit a brilliant 177 and Nick Lindley (6-79) excelled as Pudsey Congs (283-9) beat Bradford & Bingley (251).

Lee Goddard (69no) saw New Farnley (143-4) home against old club East Bierley (142), James Middlebrook taking 5-36.