Featured Image: Steve Whitwam (Golcar) showed his class when his club needed it the most as he scored a terrific century to help Golcar take home a vital 6 points away at Shepley to move out of the bottom two with two matches remaining.
Picture courtesy of Neil Cadd
Premiership leaders Hoylandswaine, despite their recent run of poor form were crowned champions for the third time after Delph & Dobcross suffered defeat at Broad Oak. The picture at the bottom changed yet again as Golcar collected a most impressive win at fortress Shepley while Skelmanthorpe crashed to a damaging home defeat to Moorlands. In the Championship, Shelley and Mirfield Parish Cavaliers took full advantage of Rastrick's surprising defeat which knocked them out of the top two at the worst possible time. Lepton Highlanders, the Cedar Court Conference champions were beaten by second-placed Almondbury.
Hoylandswaine have led the Premiership from the start and were crowned deserved champions on their own ground as they routed already-relegated Barkisland. The visitors batting first were bowled out for 115 with Adnan Ghani (5-45) the Hoylandswaine star, with Randhawa (2-17) and Mohammad Bilal (2-18) also chipping in. This low target was never an issue for the league leaders and Gharib Nawaz (57) top scored to ensure Delph & Dobcross had to win at Broad Oak to keep any faint hope of retaining their title.
Meanwhile in the Colne Valley, Delph & Dobcross missing opening bowler Wasim Qasim, made a good start against their hosts Broad Oak as Michael Finan (3-52) and Muhammad Shakir (4-36) blew away the upper order. But Sean Mee (85) valiantly dug in and knitted the innings together as Oak recovered to 228-9. In reply Delph were given a "Hyding" as New Zealand professional Ben Hyde (6-33) capped off a fine season for his club with a fantastic return with the ball as the visitors wilted under the pressure. Only leading run-scorer Mosun Hussain (31) showed any kind of resilience as Delph finished 96ao to spark the celebrations across town.
At the bottom end of the table Golcar pulled off one of the performances of the season as they scaled the fortress at Shepley and bagged a superb win to dramatically pull them out of the bottom two. Steve Whitwam (110) showed all his class with a stunning century to help the visitors put together a commanding score of 251-8 helped along the way by Craig Ruscoe (27) and Dan Woodhead (31no). Shepley couldn't match that despite the best efforts of opener Dan Wood (89) and with Will Hinchliffe (4-46) on top of his game the hosts finished 128ao.
Skelmanthorpe fell into the relegation trap-door thanks to Golcar's win combined with their home defeat to rampant Moorlands. The away side pummelled their way to 272-5 as Dave Winn (57), Andrew Fortis (66), Aqeel Mukhtar (66o) and Liam Smith (38no) made hay while the sun shone. Skelmanthorpe would be heavily reliant on a solid start to a big run chase but were delivered a huge blow as opening bowler Nicky Smith (3-49) demolished Skelmanthorpe's top order, aside from Allan Greenwood (40). A hearty response from the lower order was all in vain as Skelmanthorpe finished on 192ao and missed out on any batting points.
Armitage Bridge made sure of safety with a solid win at home to Scholes' whose season has tailed off dramatically since the departure of top players Joe Carter, Devon Smith and Callum Hill following their Sykes Cup win. Bridge made a par score of 160ao with captain Dan Moorhouse (30) top scoring and a six-wicket haul for Tom Chadwick (6-14). Scholes's response hit the skids after Moorhouse (5-42) completed an excellent all-round showing and they were bowled out for 115.
Thongsbridge are another team who have been keeping an eye on the progress of those below them but their relegation fears are also over after they put in a polished performance at home to Honley, who made 220ao batting first. Timmy Taylor (90no) was the top scorer for the visitors but Thongsbridge made a remarkably easy job of the run chase finishing on 224-0 with opening bat Jed Standring (141no) scoring a memorable century and Ben Raven-Hill (67no) playing a good foil.
Kirkburton lost heavily to Cawthorne but they'll be relieved to be playing in a so-called 'dead rubber' after their recent good form secured safety in a troubled season. They were bowled out for 107 with five wicket scalps for both Dan Stickland (5-40) and Faisal Hussain (5-36). Cawthorne rounded on 111-7 in reply as Andrew Smith (6-31) returned impressive bowling figures himself for Kirkburton. Both teams will be happy to meet again next season in the Premiership.
After leading the Championship for so long, Rastrick have spectacularly slipped out of the promotion places after they suffered a bruising defeat away to Slaithwaite. The home side battled their way to 193-9 thanks to captain Chris Coleman (35) laying anchor and a good half-century from Sohail Butt (61). Rastrick were harried all the way by an inspired Slaithwaite bowling attack with Butt (3-26) and Harrison Quarmby (3-29) at the forefront of the pestering. Rastrick were bowled out for 145 but with their close rivals both winning it means promotion has been taken out of their own hands with just one match to play.
The biggest beneficiaries of Rastrick's shortcomings were Mirfield Parish Cavalier's who went run-crazy at home to relegated Linthwaite. They amassed 336-2 due to a pair of massive centuries by Rashid Yousaf (169no) and Nazar Hussain (113no). Demoralised Linthwaite were never in the hunt in the face of such adversity and they were bowled out for 193; Cavaliers bowler Tom Fretwell (8-102) with an unwanted century of his own. A win for Mirfield Parish Cavaliers on the final day will mean a second successive promotion.
Shelley easily negotiated a tricky task at home to unpredictable Elland to take control at the top of the table by bowling their visitors out for 153. Nick Sharp (4-36) and Matthew Dyson (3-42) ensuring Elland were kept on a tight leash. Shelley romped to victory reaching 155-0 with both openers Louis Sykes (57no) and Harvey Jones (87no) scoring impressive half-centuries. Shelley will be Champions with just one more win on the final day.
Meltham enjoyed playing with freedom having secured their safety the previous week and they chased down a good Lascelles Hall score of 251ao. Sheheryar Hussain (61) and Matthew Simpson (45) top scored for visitors Lascelles Hall but Meltham paced their chase well despite losing both opening batsmen for single figure scores. Abdul Hamid (70) gave the innings the backbone it needed and a fine half-ton from Mudasar Butt (54no) saw the job home. Hassan's (4-58) was ultimately in vain as Meltham eased home in the penultimate over.
Clayton West are finishing the season in strong form and registered an easy victory over bottom club Kirkheaton. The visitors may have taken heart in bowling out Clayton West for 199; Alex Clegg (98) narrowly missing out on a century, but their frail batting was exposed ruthlessly by Clayton West bowlers David Swan (3-20) and Kyle Hitchman (3-20). Kirkheaton bowled out for 82.
Almondbury Wesleyans haven't quite kept up with the pace of their peers but they posted the days largest score of 345-5 away at ten-man Holmfirth. Four batsmen helped themselves to some wayward Holmfirth bowling; Will Binns (58), Matt Henshaw (107), Tom Binns (74) and Jacob Gibson (58). A thoroughly one-sided contest was finished off as the hosts were 67ao in reply with Ben Shufflebotham (3-13) making the biggest impact with the ball.
Cedar Court Conference
Almondbury are the team holding their nerve the best as they bid to join champions Lepton Highlanders in the second tier for 2018. They completed an excellent win against Lepton themselves and now go into the final match in the box seat. Lepton were 184ao as opening bowler Mirza Mobeen (5-42) carved through the Lepton ranks, despite a half century from former Hoylandswaine player Matthew Marsh (53). Almondbury made short work of the target as used only half their overs to reach 187-5 and stay in second place.
Elsewhere Hall Bower's promotion campaign was ended at home to Marsden. Bower finishing well short on 131ao chasing Marsden's 171ao. The only other team with promotion aspirations left are Cumberworth United who put on 212-9 at home to Emley Clarence who could only make 164ao in reply. Thurstonland (175ao) made Mirfield (119ao) suffer and there was another low-scoring match as Birkby Rose Hill (101-4) overhauled Denby's meagre total of 99ao. Upperthong had too much in the tank for Denby Dale as they piled on 254-8 and went on to bowl out the hosts for 133.