Smith is sure Saints will bounce back again

Andrew Bairstow loses his wicket for Pudsey Congs in their Bradford League match with local rivals Farsley. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Andrew Bairstow loses his wicket for Pudsey Congs in their Bradford League match with local rivals Farsley. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
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Pudsey St Lawrence captain James Smith admits his side have developed a “losing habit” in recent weeks, but he believes they can still achieve their goals this season.

St Lawrence enjoyed a barnstorming start to the current campaign, clocking up 10 wins in their first 10 fixtures which saw them go 25 points clear just two weeks ago.

However, three successive losses, culminating in Saturday’s two-run away defeat against New Farnley, have helped in-form Woodlands close the gap to just four points.

“I could see the slump coming,” said Smith.

“We’ve played some average cricket but managed to get results until recently. We got outplayed by East Bierley but we played better against Woodlands a week later and took a lot of positives out of that game.

“But last week was a tough one to take,” Smith conceded. “We threw away a very strong position which was very disappointing.

“New Farnley deserve credit for the way they fought, but I think we lost that game as much as they won it.”

Though the title race is closer than ever with eight games to go, Smith is confident his side can handle the pressure and return to form sooner rather than later.

“There’s always going to be pressure at the top,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve been in this position at this stage of the season as a club, but I’ve played long enough in the Bradford League to know what happens.

“If we win every game between now and the end of the year, which is definitely achievable, then we’ll be very hard to catch.”

Fifth-placed New Farnley caused something of an upset with their win against Saints with Nicholas Walker proving to be the star of the show, notching an unbeaten century to help produce a memorable win.

Elsewhere in Division One, second-placed Woodlands kept up the heat on Pudsey with a comfortable 92-run win over Saltaire. Chris Brice’s contribution of four wickets proved to be crucial as the visitors failed to reach their 205 target.

Hanging Heaton also continued their good form of late as they crushed East Bierley by 118 runs to stay third, while 10th-placed Farsley’s underwhelming season continued with an away loss to Pudsey Congs.

Finally, Cleckheaton enjoyed a comfortable afternoon on Saturday, producing a six-wicket win against Lightcliffe, but it was a much closer affair between Underciffe and Bradford & Bingley, Undercliffe edging a tight encounter by two wickets.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Lightcliffe and Bradford & Bingley secured their place in this year’s Priestley Cup final, with wins over Pudsey Congs and New Farnley, respectively.