WOODLANDS secured a sixth Bradford League Division One title on a dramatic final day of the season writes Andrew Hunt.
With four sides in with a shout going to last Saturday’s final matches, East Bierley and Lightcliffe both held the lead until Woodlands wrapped up a dramatic victory over Bradford & Bingley.
Lightcliffe claimed a maximum 20 points from a 119-run victory over relegated Undercliffe and looked on course to clinch a first championship crown after Bingley reached 149-6 in reply to Woodlands’ 153 all out.
Left-arm spinner Chris Brice removed top scorer Matthew Duce for 58, before fellow spinner Grant Soames (3-12) claimed the last three wickets to secure a win that snatched the title from Lightcliffe’s grasp.
Captain Pieter Swanepoel led his side with 5-40 but Woodlands were also grateful for the efforts of 21-year-old batsman Liam Brearley.
Promoted to the first team when overseas player Sarfraz Ahmed returned home, Brearley made an unbeaten 52 which rescued his side from 34-5.
His innings contained two sixes and five fours and he shared two crucial partnerships, putting on 62 for the sixth wicket with Brice (37) and then adding 54 in just 31 balls with Tim Orrell (25) who was playing his last innings for the club.
Bingley opener Simon Davies (31) and Duce batted their side into a winning position, only for Woodlands to grasp victory from the jaws of defeat.
East Bierley began the day fourth in the table but they jumped to top after victory over St Lawrence.
Off spinner Kez Ahmed (5-18) helped dismiss St Lawrence for 110 before Bierley knocked off the runs in just 19 overs with Gavin Hamilton making 77, including two sixes and 12 fours.
But once news of Lightcliffe’s win filtered through, Bierley knew their title hopes were over, although few would have predicted the drama that followed later in the evening.
Cleckheaton’s hopes of a first title were dashed when they suffered a three-wicket defeat at Pudsey Congs.
Cleckheaton looked to be heading for a big score when Ian Nicholson (48) and captain John Wood (37) were at the wicket, but the scoring rate dipped in the middle of the innings as former Cleckheaton spinner Edward Walmsley took 3-47.
Their final total of 210-7 looked a little below par and so it proved. With opener Nick Lindley (79) and Andrew Bairstow (53) leading the way, Congs sealed victory with four balls to spare. Spinner Andrew Deegan (3-38) was the pick of the Cleckheaton bowlers.
Hanging Heaton avoided relegation thanks to a seven-wicket win over Saltaire.
Overseas player Nawaz Sardar (62no), Waleed Akhtar (57) and Fahid Rehman (39) were the top scorers for Saltaire but young spinner Jamie Baulk pegged them back with 3-19, while David Stiff (3-60) also shone as the visitors closed on 223-8.
Openers Rob McFarlane (102) and Mark Lawson (93) shared a superb stand of 198 to help Heaton cruise to 225-3 with 15.1 overs to spare.
McFarlane struck six sixes and nine fours, while Lawson blasted three sixes and 12 fours as Heaton sealed victory to finish third-bottom.
Gomersal earned a two-run win over Great Horton to finish fourth in Division Two.
Wicketkeeper Jack Seddon made an unbeaten 60 but Gomersal were dismissed for 164, with Muhammed Akbar (4-44) and Altaf Mohammad (3-20) doing the damage.
Sadaqat Zaman (65) threatened to win it for Great Horton but James Russell (6-62) and Chris Rhodes (3-43) turned the game as they were bowled out for 162.
That could prove to be Great Horton’s final game in the Bradford League as the face the possibility of being kicked out at an extraordinary general meeting tonight (Thursday).
Spen Victoria rounded off their campaign with a 125-run win over Bowling Old Lane. Opener Peter Jackson (43) and Joel Pollard (43) top scored in a total of 199-9. Spinner Craig Woodhead took 3-13 as Old Lane were dismissed for 74.
Hartshead Moor defeated Idle in their final match as Simon North (4-40) helped dismiss them for 125 and Moor went on to seal a five-wicket win.