Featured Image: All-rounder Jacob Mulhall (Lepton Highlanders) helped his club maintain a firm course for promotion as he single-handedly destroyed second-bottom Mirfield with the ball by taking six wickets (6-22) in a nine-wicket demolition.
Picture courtesy of the Huddersfield Examiner.
The Premiership never fails to captivate and with just four matches left to play we have drama at both ends of the table. On a day hampered with severe lunchtime showers, leaders Hoylandswaine slumped to a second successive defeat to 3rd placed Shepley allowing reigning champions Delph & Dobcross to claw back four more points and cut their lead to 13 points. At the opposite end, Barkisland's defeat away at Thongsbridge means they must win all their remaining matches to give themselves a chance of staying up. In the Championship, table-toppers Rastrick were edged out by one solitary run at Elland while Shelley and Mirfield Parish Cavaliers both kept up the hunt for promotion with wins. Lepton swept aside 2nd-bottom Mirfield in the Conference to extend their lead to 9 points and Cumberworth United opportunistically moved into the second promotion place after edging out Hall Bower.
The top flight's top team, Hoylandswaine, after leading the table virtually all season are in real danger of a dramatic combustion with the finishing post seemingly in their cross hairs. They allowed Delph to further whittle away their cushion to 13 points after they came second best to Shepley by the narrowest of margins at home. Visitors Shepley batted first in a 30 over match, handicapped by absences from influential first team players Oliver Davidson, Tom Denton and Nadim Hussain for varying reasons. Their innings got off to the worst possible start after Dan Wood and Scott Price were both taken out with no runs on the board, however the ship was stabilised by overseas Brenton Thompson (42) and wicketkeeper Shahban Raheem (49no). Youngster Archie Greaves (26no) continued his Premiership teeth-cutting helping Shepley recover to set a competitive first innings score of 147-4. For the second successive week Hoylandswaine's gifted top three failed to ignite and it proved costly as Shepley's lethal opening bowlers Danny Glover (3-31) and Nasir Jamal (5-29) again exerted their control over the match. Hoylandswaine rallied with the consistent Max Joice (35) and captain Ryan Robinson (39) but Shepley held their nerve and bowled out Hoylandswaine three runs short on 144ao to complete a thrilling win. A win for Hoylandswaine away at second-placed Delph & Dobcross next weekend might still secure a third Byrom Shield title.
Delph & Dobcross are keeping up a relentless defence of their title and have stayed in touch following a routine victory away at mid-table Cawthorne in a 22 over per side match. Delph were invited into bat but racked up a daunting 162-7 thanks to a cluster of eye-catching knocks from the Premiership's leading run-scorer Mosun Hussain (30), Graeme Simpson (34), Luke Hargreaves (31) and Mike Finan (26). In fact, things weren't quite so plain sailing for Andrew Gleave's men as they whizzed to 50 without loss off just seven overs. Then they went into a mini-collapse losing four wickets fell in the space of 14 balls before Simpson and Hargreaves worked together to put on a match-saving 60 partnership. Opening bowler for Cawthorne; Faisal Hussain (4-36) in amongst the wickets for the hosts. In reply, Cawthorne fell behind such a testing rate and never really recovered as Wasim Qasim (1-18) Shakir Muhammad (0-6) tied down their ends in the first ten overs. It was a tall order from there on in and Michael Finan (3-34) mopped up well in his seven overs. Some lusty blows from Liam Wiles (51) in the last over bagged a point for Cawthorne who'll almost certainly be playing Premiership cricket once again next season.
Kirkburton's Premiership survival mission looks in altogether more healthy shape as they deepened Armitage Bridge's worries with a hugely vital win away from home. A 25 over match saw Kirkburton inserted and they put on a strong 129-3 from their innings with key knocks from Rohan Randhawa (37), captain Craig Fletcher (25) and overseas pro Luke Williamson (36). Randhawa (4-18) turned in a man of the match performance by taking four wickets with the ball as Armitage Bridge were restricted to 103-8 but gain a useful batting point.
Golcar's troubled season took another dent and they stay in the bottom two with matches quickly running out after crashing to a damaging defeat at nearby Broad Oak. It was a positive start from the visitors as opening batsmen Abdul Wahid (39) and skipper Steve Whitwam (44) got themselves off to a solid start. But batting collapses have plagued the Swallow Lane side and they once again failed to convert a good opportunity as spinner John Keeling helped restrict the visiting team to 132-8 in their reduced overs match. Broad Oak survived a wobble themselves after Upal Bandara took four wickets in four balls but it was the sole high point in a grim afternoon as Broad Oak muscled their way to victory thanks to a half-century from Ben Hyde (54) and a crucial innings from Dominic Finn (47).
Skelmanthorpe came a cropper and stay just 3 points above Golcar following their home defeat to Honley. Simon Kelly's side were ruthless with the ball as they bowled out Skelmanthorpe for 110 with Brett Randell (4-23) enjoying his first season at the club with another big impact with the ball. Only Allan Greenwood (41) making any kind of useful contribution for the home side. They were prevented from picking up a vital point too as Honley withstood any pressure Skelmanthorpe could exert and Will Fraine (59no) passed an impressive personal milestone by reaching 1,000 runs in an excellent season.
Barkisland are possibly already planning for life in the Chamnpionship next term and conversely their opponents Thongsbridge have made big strides to take their place in next season's Premiership as they ran out close winners by two wickets in a low-scoring affair. Visiting Barkisland were hampered by Ben Howitt's (4-24) explosive spell as they were held to 109-9 batting first. Thongsbridge got themselves over the line at 110-8 with Matthew Steers' four wickets ultimately in vain. Two points gained by Barkisland isn't likely to be enough to keep them with realistic hopes of survival at this late stage.
Moorlands v Scholes was a late result.
Fourth-placed Elland kept their slim hopes of an immediate return to the Premiership alive with a heart-stopping one-run win at home to runaway leaders Rastrick in a memorable derby match on the north side of the M62. Elland got themselves to 131-5 with Liam Fletcher (39) their main run-scorer and Asif Afridi (3-35) continuing his strong season for Rastrick. The visitors were serenely going about business 82-2 in reply and needing just 50 runs off the last 12 overs. But a major collapse derailed the lofty leaders as Tom Haytack (3-28) and Harish Krishnesh (3-37) got stuck in and tight death bowling meant Rastrick had to settle for two points and a one-run defeat. Their lead over third place is now eight points.
Second-placed Shelley routed visitors Lascelles Hall to keep up the pressure. Former Shepley, Hoylandswaine and Denby all-rounder Ranjith Bandula-Don (3-23) and Moin Hussain (3-15) were in devastating form with the ball as Lascelles Hall were stunned at 88ao. Shelley making quick work of the reply rounding on 94-2 and secure an easy win in quick time.
Mirfield Parish Cavaliers robustly put doomed Kirkheaton to the sword at home in a rampant 204-run win. Daniel Broadbent (90) blazed a path with the biggest score of the day as along with Nazir Hussain (64) Parish piled on the runs. Kirkheaton will hope to keep hold of talents like Nathan Swift (6-59) if as expected they go down and seek a quick return as his six-wickets were the only bright spot of a gloomy afternoon. Parish bowler Tom Fretwell (7-26) whittled through as Kirkheaton were bowled out for 74.
There was no play possible at Meltham vs Almondbury Wesleyans and Slaithwaite vs Linthwaite as the days rain caused irreversible damage. No news was reported from Holmfirth v Clayton West.
Cedar Court Conference
Bottom-placed Denby and mid-table Upperthong played out a gripping tie in the division's closest match. Denby's 142-8 was equalled by Upperthong's 142-5 with Akhlaq Ahmed (42) and Ben Balmforth (38) the highest scorers for Denby and Upperthong respectively.
Lepton's quest for the title was reinforced further as they gained a further advantage by sweeping aside Mirfield at home. Youngster Jacob Mulhall is developing his all-round proficiency, this time with the ball as he registered 6-22 as visiting Mirfield were 65ao. Lepton wasted little time and effort chasing such a small total and reached 66-1 in reply.
Marsden's promotion campaign hit the buffers again away at Denby Dale as the hosts chased down Marsden's 152-7, reaching 153-5. Cumberworth were the biggest profiteers as they nipped in to second by edging out Hall Bower. Cumberworth's 114-8 seemingly a tad too much for Bower who reached 105-8.
Elsewhere Almondbury (133-3) overcame Birkby Rose Hill (131-9) and no play was possible at Thurstonland vs Emley Clarence.