THE BRADFORD LEAGUE top-flight title is Pudsey St Lawrence’s and Woodlands’ to lose.
That’s the message from Cleckheaton spokesperson Kevin Mitchell ahead of the Division One champions’ mouth-watering clash with near-neighbours Woodlands tomorrow in the game of the day at Albert Terrace.
An intriguing last weekend which saw leaders Lawrence lose out by one run to Hanging Heaton and second-placed Woodlands crash by four wickets at struggling East Bierley tightened up the top end of the table somewhat, with the Tewits and Cleck being the big beneficiaries.
Cleck are in third spot, four points behind Woodlands and 16 in arrears of Lawrence, with Heaton being four points adrift of the Moorenders in fourth.
In total, just 20 points separate the leading quartet.
But despite clawing themselves seemingly back into the title race with their hopes of a hat-trick of championships apparently over in mid-June, Cleck insist that the pressure is on other shoulders.
Mitchell said: “Woodlands and Pudsey St Lawerence are most certainly the favourites, without a shadow of a doubt. It is theirs to lose. As far as Cleckheaton are concerned, we are not even thinking about this and I mean it.
“The players are going out to enjoy their cricket and what will be, will be. Que sera, sera and we are building towards the ECB Premier League (Bradford League) next year. The lads are going into it in relaxed fashion and aren’t feeling any pressure whatsoever. We will leave others to worry about titles and just play our cricket.”
It promises to be a seminal weekend for Woodlands, who, 24 hours after facing old rivals Cleck, lock horns with crack Drakes Huddersfield League outfit Hoylandswaine in the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup.
Woodlands head into their double-header without skipper Pieter Swanepoel and are assessing the fitness of Grant Soames. Secretary Brian Pearson said: “It’s a big weekend for us and unfortunately Swanny had a trip to South Africa booked from last year and it has worked out he is missing for the weekend.
“I don’t think we have been beaten at home this season. But it is always a good game against Cleckheaton which is close to call. It is a must-win game for both of us. At the moment, I couldn’t call the title race which is good for the league.”
The Heavy Woollen showpiece takes place on Sunday at Ossett CC.
Woodlands’ only previous success in the prestigious cup competition arrived 11 years ago when they beat Spen Victoria in the showpiece at Liversedge.
Woodlands have beaten Mirfield Parish Church, Barkisland, Wakefield Thornes and Pudsey Congs en route to this year’s final.
DERBY rivals Pudsey St Lawrence and Farsley are in need of points for wholly contrasting reasons in tomorrow’s clash at Tofts Road.
July has been a month to forget for both sides, with Farsley in the Division One drop zone after four successive defeats.
Leaders Lawrence have not fared much better, losing three matches out of four this month – to Woodlands, New Farnley and Hanging Heaton, with their sole success coming against rock-bottom Saltaire.
Both will no doubt be keen to bid good riddance to July, with tomorrow being the start of a teak-tough double header for Farsley, who face another title-chaser in Woodlands on August 8.
It’s also crunch time for faltering Lawrence, who visit derby rivals Pudsey Congs in eight days’ time.
Other top-flight action tomorrow sees fourth-placed Hanging Heaton make the trip to Lightcliffe.
New Farnley, meanwhile – still in with an outside title chance in fifth place on the league ladder – welcome Bradford and Bingley.
Congs visit Saltaire and a big clash at the top of Division Two sees leaders Morley welcome second-placed Scholes, who sit 15 points behind them in the table.