Promotion hopes at stake for Spen Victoria

DIVISION TWO Spen Victoria go into their derby clash with Gomersal tomorrow (Saturday) knowing a defeat could prove the beginning of the end in terms of their Bradford League promotion hopes.

Spen were highly convincing in their 184-run walloping of Bankfoot last time out – but find themselves 13 points adrift of second-placed New Farnley.

And with only six games remaining, Dan Shuffe’s men simply cannot afford any further slip-ups.

Tosh Baker emerged from a lean spell with the bat to hit 104 not out against Bankfoot, surpassing 600 for the season.

Rob Burton, meanwhile, enjoying his best-ever season with the ball, took six wickets for 12 runs to take his wicket tally to 66 – the league’s leading tally for 2013.

The Gomersal-Spen Victoria clash always arouses local interest in view of the close proximity of the two clubs and the prevalence of players who have appeared for both sides.

On this occasion, however, Gomersal can claim no personnel from just down the hill.

But Burton, wicket-keeper Matt Garside, left-arm spinner Ben Platt, Joel Pollard and batsman Baker have all spent time at Oxford Road in recent years.

One battle well worth a watch will be that between Burton and Gomersal’s prolific opener Richard Gould, as the league’s top wicket-taker this season takes on the league’s leading run-scorer.

For the record Gould requires only 40 runs to reach 1,000 for the season, and 147 to complete a total of 15,000 first-team runs.

Chasing Gould for the elusive four-figure tally is Cleckheaton talent Tim Jackson, who hit 114 in the Division One leaders’ latest triumph.

The Moorenders were 107-run winners at home to Morley last Saturday, Jackson taking his season tally to 846.

And while boasting a 33-point lead over reigning champions Woodlands, Cleckheaton now face an awkward derby clash themselves in the shape of East Bierley.

Heavy Woollen Cup winners Hanging Heaton are back in cup action in two weeks’ time, as they tackle Lightcliffe in the Priestley Cup final at Farsley.

But before that they have some very important top-flight games to get through.

Their league form has been hugely disappointing and should their poor run of results continue, there is a danger of the Bennett Lane outfit being sucked into a relegation battle.

Tomorrow they entertain Bradford & Bingley who are level on points with the Hanging Heaton (Saturday) – and only 32 points clear of second bottom Baildon.

That may sound like a clear margin, but with 20 points available per game it’s a lead which can be soon eroded.

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