PRIESTLEY CUP finalists Cleckheaton go to North Kirklees rivals Hanging Heaton tomorrow (Sat) with no doubts as to the difficulty of their task.
A cup semi-final win over Second Division leaders Undercliffe came as a timely boost after suffering only their second league defeat of the season the day before at home to Pudsey Congs.
John Wood’s reigning First Division Champions are still 24 points ahead of Woodlands, after the Oakenshaw side were beaten by 19 runs at Hanging Heaton, but Pudsey St Lawrence are now only 26 points behind.
Hanging Heaton had to work hard to see off Woodlands, David Paynter (74 not out) and Nick Connolly (60) helping them to 262-3 before Connolly’s 4-33 restricted the visitors to 243-7, and there is no reason why Gary Fellows and his men can’t give Cleckheaton a rough ride.
Wood was a Hanging Heaton player himself in his younger days and will know what to expect on his return to Bennett Lane.
He will certainly not be taking anything for granted, despite being well placed to retain their league title, as last week’s surprise defeat at home to Pudsey Congs will have served as a warning against any complacency.
A hard-hitting 95 not out from veteran skipper Barbar Butt took the game away from Cleckheaton, and had it not been for the 32 byes Butt conceded as stand-in keeper the margin of defeat would have been far greater than the eventual 48 runs, as only Ian Nicholson (66) made any impact with the bat.
A comfortable eight-wicket win over Undercliffe was a welcome relief after the Congs upset but they were never really tested.
Andrew Deegan (5-20) helped bowl out the visitors for just 108 and Tanzeel Altaf, with 41 out of 47 runs for the second wicket, paved the way for Tim Jackson (38 not out) to see Cleckheaton home in just 26.1 overs.
East Bierley missed out on an all Kirklees final, which is to be held at Undercliffe on August 24, when they were beaten by just three runs in their tie with Pudsey St Lawrence.
Meanwhile, Cleckheaton are still chasing a trophy ‘treble’ with their Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy at home to York now scheduled for August 10.
Elsewhere in the First Division, Woodlands are poised to close the gap at the top if Cleckheaton slip up again, when they entertain Morley, while East Bierley continue their battle to pull away from the relegation zone when they take on Farsley at South View.
In Division Two Jonathon Boynton, enjoying his best season with the bat for Gomersal, hit 71 at Keighley but could not save his side from defeat, and Spen Victoria were hammered by 119 runs at home to Bowling Old Lane but there was better news for Hartshead Moor, who were six-wicket winners at Windhill.