Bradford League: Pudsey Congs believe they will beat the dreaded drop

Ryan Cooper, who top scored with 73 for Farsley in the win against Batley to keep his team  amongst the front runners in the top flight. PIC: Steve Riding
Ryan Cooper, who top scored with 73 for Farsley in the win against Batley to keep his team amongst the front runners in the top flight. PIC: Steve Riding
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DOWN, but not out – that is the defiant message from Pudsey Congs, despite a tough first half of the season.

The pre-season talk that it will be a difficult campaign at the Britannia Ground has so far rung true, with Congs currently second from bottom, 11 points adrift of safety.

It is a far cry from their glory days in the first half of the Noughties when the club’s trophy cabinet contained a fair amount of silverware, but despite Congs clearly being in transition, the fight is still there to salvage their season.

That is the view of Congs club chairman Ralph Middlebrook.

Spirit aplenty was shown in Saturday’s narrow loss to high-flying Woodlands, who sneaked a one-run win at Albert Terrace.

It may have proved a tough conclusion for Congs, who fluffed their lines in the final over of the run chase, but they are very much still fighting in their quest to stave off the drop.

Middlebrook said: “We are down, but not out by any means. As Doidgy (former captain Matthew Doidge) used to say: ‘You don’t win the Bradford League with lads’ and you do need some experience. With the exception of Babar (Butt), who is struggling with an Achilles problem, we have not got much.

“For us, the bowling is standing up very well and there’s some spirit in the team and one or two are convinced we won’t go down and that is fabulous and I am hoping that, too. We are fighting.

“If we can hang on this season and recruit a little bit of experience, which we have not quite got at the minute in the second team, sadly, we will bounce back. Worst things have happened at sea.”

While Congs’ bowlers have put their hand up so far this season, the club’s batting department have failed to consistently fire on all cylinders, despite some elements of individual promise during 2017. Middlebrook acknowledges that some more key contributions from their leading cast will be required during high summer if the club are to pull away from danger.

Middlebrook said: “We hoped for more runs from (Ryan) Gibson, who is a contracted player with his highest score being 46.”

“He’s an exciting talent, but we don’t want excitement, we want runs.

“Zahid Nissar came in last week and got a nice fifty-odd. James Ford, who is opening the batting, has got stickability and he was unlucky to get out this week for 49, sweeping the leg-spinner off the second ball.

“Irfan Amjad got a beautiful sixty-odd the other week at New Farnley and he looks a classy little player and he looks quite capable.

“But it is (Josh) Wheatley and Gibson – our two quality performers – who we need some runs from.”

At the top, Hanging Heaton bounced back from last weekend’s reverse to champions Pudsey St Lawrence with a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Townville, who slumped to their third straight league defeat. The star turn for the Tewits was spinner Muhammed Rameez, who bagged an excellent 6-32 as Townville were dismissed for 132, with run machine Nick Connolly (60no) helping Heaton saunter over the line in reply.

Farsley (212-5) are seven points behind Heaton after a 59-run triumph over basement club Batley (153), with key contributions coming from Ryan Cooper (73no) and spinner Adam Ahmed, who took a super 6-24.

St Lawrence (179) dropped to fourth after losing out to Bradford and Bingley (190), despite the best efforts of Richie Lamb (4-39) and Tom Hudson (3-25).

The demise of Cleckheaton (86) continued as they slumped to a hefty 146-run defeat to New Farnley, for whom Yorkshire fitness coach Ian Fisher took an outstanding 6-22.

Richard Atkins (67) and Dave Cummings were both in good order with the bat for Farnley, who totalled 232-7.