THE FORM of Championship Two promotion-chasers Birstall is the one bright spot for the district in what is proving a testing summer for the majority of our clubs outside the Premier Division.
Third-placed Birstall have a great chance to close a seven-point gap and leapfrog Wakefield St Michaels into the second promotion spot, with the Wakefield side at runaway leaders Keighley tomorrow.
Standing in the way of Nick Kaye’s men tomorrow is relegation-threatened East Ardsley and a win would be the perfect response to the disappointment of last week’s four-wicket defeat at Keighley – a result that was a real setback to Birstall’s title hopes.
Batting first Birstall made 180, with the early dismissal of Eric Austin proving an untimely blow, but fellow opener Ian Carradice dug in to make a determined 38 off 72 balls before being run out by Keighley skipper Paul Quinlan. In fact, Birstall’s downfall was almost exclusively Quinlan’s doing.
Apart from the run out the Keighley skipper took 6-41, with four different dismissals, and had it not been for the unbroken 41-run stand for the seventh wicket he probably would have been at the wicket when the winning runs were scored – he was next in!
Keeping a close eye on the Birstall game tomorrow will be Hopton Mills, Spen Victoria and Liversedge who, along with East Ardsley, occupy the bottom four places in this division.
Spen escaped relegation to the Conference last season, because of the first season ‘no relegation’ rule for the existing Bradford League clubs when the League merged with the Central Yorkshire League, but they have no get-out-of-jail card to play this term.
They are currently in second-bottom spot, 14 points behind East Ardsley, having played one game more. In the circumstances their trip to Bowling Old Lane tomorrow is already looking like a must-win situation.
Liversedge, a point behind Spen at the foot of the table, are without a game while Hopton Mills are at Brighouse.
In Championship One Gomersal, having slipped into mid-table, face another tough game when they go to promotion chasing Morley.
Hartshead Moor are at leaders Undercliffe, while second-bottom Ossett are at home to fellow strugglers Yeadon.
Winless Ossett need to pick up maximum points in this game and hope that Batley can get a win at a third bottom Hunslet Nelson side who currently have a 23-point advantage over them.
In the Conference second bottom Heckmondwike and Carlinghow are at home to fourth bottom Crossbank Methodists in a key derby encounter.