Three battling for honours

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The Halifax League’s Division One title and promotion race should come to an exciting conclusion next Saturday with three teams in the hunt for honours.

Two of them, joint leaders Cullingworth and third-placed Bridgeholme, meet at Eastwood with seven points between them.

The other joint leaders, Southowram, travel to play already relegated Stones in their final game.

Cullingworth picked up 12 points, Southowram 11 and Bridgeholme, who ended Sowerby Bridge’s hopes of an immediate return to the Premier, 11 points in their latest matches.

Southowram beat Great Horton PC by 55 runs at Ashday Lane. Dean Crossley hit 120 and Ashley Johnson 56 while Tom Belfield took 5-55.

Bridgeholme beat Sowerby Bridge by four wickets in a intense struggle, Yasir Mahmood seeing them over the line with an unbeaten 54.

Bridge lost their top three batsmen for four runs but James Holdsworth (80) and Sam Mellor (56 not out) helped them to 211-7, a modest score on a small ground.

Bridgeholme were made to work hard for their runs but Chris Kibble (32), Nazakat Ali (46) and Oliver Challi (39) chipped in before Mahmood settled matters.

Cullingworth had it much easier at home to Blackley with batsman-of-the-year Ben Birkill (137) hitting his highest score of the season, to pass the 1,200 runs mark. Steve Welch (69) kept him company in a stand worth 157 runs.

The visitors started well, chasing 284, but lost seven wickets for 37 runs and it was left to Macaulay Shiel (67 not out) and No 10 James O’Connell (48) to add some respectability to the score, Phil Poole taking 6-23.

Stones came close to a first maximum return of the season in the basement battle against Shelf but lost by six runs as Sadiq Ali (95) and Robert Ramsden (7-46) came up trumps for the visitors.

Division One: Sowerby Bridge 211-7 (Holdsworth 80, Mellor 56*), *Bridgeholme 214-6 (Y Mahmood 54*, Ali 46): pts 4-11. *Cullingworth 283-7 (Birkill 137, Welch 69, Stenson 4-27), Blackley 191 (Shiel 67*, O’Connell 48, Poole 6-23): pts 12-5. *Southowram 243-7 (Crossley 120, Johnson 56), Great Horton PC 188-9 (Batley 72, Belfield 5-55): pts 11-5. Shelf 186 (Ali 95), *Stones 180 (Sutcliffe 40, Ramsden 7-46): pts 12-6.

Points; Cullingworth 181, Southowram 181, Bridgeholme 174, Sowerby Bridge 167, Blackley 142, Great Horton 131, Shelf 98, Stones 64.

Illingworth’s hopes of going through their Division Two campaign without defeat were extinguished by Clayton, who kept alive their hopes of snatching second place.

Already crowned champions after returning to the league, Illingworth’s unbeaten 19-match run came to an end thanks to Mitesh Mistry.

Illingworth dropped catches and were guilty of misfields on a bumpy outfield as Clayton recovered from 112-6 to reach 209, aided by some late lusty hitting by Joseph Brown, who had 12 boundaries in his 64.

Illingworth struggled against the wily medium pace of Mistry, who bowled through with devastating effect to claim 7-40. James Lawton (33) stemmed the tide for a while but Ben Robertshaw (21) and Stuart Thompson (17) were the only others to reach double figures as Illingworth were all out for just 104 in the 25th over.

Bradshaw were gifted maximum points by an absent Birchencliffe and have a 10-point lead over Clayton in the hunt for the second promotion place with two rounds of games left.

Resurgent Greetland hit 300 runs for probably the first time in many years at Leymoor en route to an eighth win of the season.

Istiraj Khan (108), Paul Quarmby (63) and Damien Reynolds (57) made significant contributions and, despite an excellent 127 from Jacob Giles, a 24-run was achieved.

There was a curious match at Mount, versus Old Town, where the top four batsmen from both teams contributed only a cumulative 50 runs.

Mount eventually set a target of 145 for the Hebden Bridge team, who were 58-5 at one stage before Adil Shah (41 not out) and Abdul Baig (32 not out) combined in a winning stand of 51 runs.

Low Moor HT beat an out of sorts Outlane, who could only muster 166 all out with opener Alan Davies contributing 82.

James Overend (90 not out) and Adam Forbes (49) completed an easy seven wicket win for Moor.

Daniel Barron (52 not out) guided Luddenden Foot to a four-wicket win at Upper Hopton, for whom Steven Adams top-scored with 57.

Division Two: Bradshaw w/o v *Birchencliffe. *Clayton 209 (Brown 64), Illingworth St Mary’s 104 (Mistry 7-40): pts 12-4. Greetland 300-7 (Khan 108, Quarmby 63, Reynolds 57), *Leymoor 276 (Giles 127, Walkden 42, Hayat 4-84): pts 12-5. Outlane 166 (Davies 82), *Low Moor HT 168-3 (Overend 90*, Forbes 49): pts 2-12. *Mount 144, Old Town 148-7 (Shah 41*, Baig 32*): pts 4-12.

*Upper Hopton 169-7 (Adams 57), Luddendenfoot 170-6 (Barron 52*): pts 3-11.

Points (after 20 games): Illingworth SM 228, Bradshaw 193, Clayton 183, Luddenden Foot 152, Outlane 140, Mount 138, Leymoor 128, Greetland 125, Old Town 119, Low Moor 107, Upper Hopton 91, Birchencliffe 81.