SOME SPELLS in a season are bigger than others and Pudsey St Lawrence are smack bang in the middle of one.
The Tofts Road men have negotiated the first two segments of a key Premier League triple header impressively enough by posting victories over champions Hanging Heaton and near-neighbours Farsley and now face a third important test at a New Farnley side with high aspirations of their own in 2018.
Holders Farnley are also standing in the way of St Lawrence and Priestley Cup progress at the Barry Jackson Ground a week on Sunday and it promises to be an intriguing few weekends of action.
St Lawrence captain Chris Marsden, whose side are 12 points clear at the summit above second-placed Farnley ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, said: “It is a massive few weeks and if we come out of these few weeks unbeaten, then we are putting ourselves in the best position to push on.
“There are certain points of the season where you can look back and think: ‘well, that is key’. These fixtures could possibly be one of our key moments in the season and we must be on top of our game.
“Our focus is concentrating on what we are doing. It is a long season and if you start worrying about other teams, you lose focus. It is much of a muchness throughout the league. There are some strong teams and people always talk about the teams at the top, but it showed the other week when New Farnley were at the top at the weekend and then got beat.
“You are only one defeat away from being fourth or fifth and that is good, healthy competition and helps us to keep focused on the job in hand.”
While hardly getting carried away at their solid start to the season so far, there is a quiet sense of satisfaction with events so far at St Lawrence, with the seamless transition of Marsden into the role of captain having represented another positive development.
Chipping in with some key contributions with the ball has further cultivated Marsden’s sense of authority, although he is quick to pay tribute to the impact of several senior colleagues who have been helping him along the way so far this summer.
The spinner took three wickets in last weekend’s resounding eight-wicket win over Heaton – following up from three wickets in the recent victory over Townville. Just for good measure, he made a key knock with the bat in the Bank Holiday Monday success over Farsley.
Marsden added: “It is pleasing; I have contributed with the ball quite well all season. You always want to contribute and it is a new challenge for me to captain during the game with bowling changes and things like that.
“But I have got some really good ‘cricket brains’ around me such as Mark Robertshaw, Barrie Frankland and James Smith and it helps playing in a team where you understand each other’s games.
“We are playing good cricket and are happy and enjoying ourselves and that’s the key for us. We are backing ourselves.”
GIVEN their contributions already this season, Hanging Heaton’s new recruits are already marking themselves out to be shrewd acquisitions.
The likes of former Pudsey Congs seamer Josh Holling and ex-Driffield top-order man Ben Kohler-Cadmore, brother of Yorkshire rising star Tom, have already made an impact, but some of existing key men on deck are yet to consistently fire for the Bradford Premier League champions this term.
Heading into the part of the season which separates the contenders from the wanabees, hope abounds that while form is temporary, class is permanent and that the Tewits’ leading lights will start to flex their muscles shortly.
It would represent a timely juncture to do just that, with third-placed Heaton seeking to hit back from their Premier League loss at St Lawrence at home to Methley tomorrow.
The Tewits travel to last season’s beaten finalists Methley in the Priestley Cup on Sunday week and host holders Woodlands in the Heavy Woollen Cup on Sunday in a key spell for the Bennett Laners.
Chairman John Carruthers said: “We have got a couple of tough games coming up and at this point of the season we need to start putting a bit of consistency together.
“The new lads have all settled in really well and the lads from the last two years have not really – as we stand at this moment – showed as much quality as they did last year.
“But the new lads have started well. Josh Holling and Ben Kohler-Cadmore have done really well, which is nice to see.”
Elsewhere tomorrow, fifth-placed Farsley, who got back on track by virtue of last weekend’s triumph over Methley, entertain Bradford and Bingley.
Woodlands – who now find themselves in mid-table – will be seeking to make amends for last weekend’s hugely disappointing loss to Cleckheaton when they play host to another side in need of a boost in struggling neighbours Scholes, who are aiming to arrest a four-match losing run.
Surprise packages Lightcliffe, level on points with third-placed Heaton, go to Townville, while Cleck will be fancying their chances when they make the short journey to rock-bottom East Bierley.
In Championship One, Morley, now down to third, host Pudsey Congs. Leaders Undercliffe visit basement boys Ossett and second-placed Wrenthorpe host Batley.