opening batsman Nick Connolly wrote a new chapter in the history of Hanging Heaton last Saturday when he became the club’s first player in 37 years to score 1,000 Bradford League runs in a season.
Connolly’s 75 in Heaton’s victory over Cleckheaton at Moorend saw the Australian native become the first player since Ronnie Hudson scored 1,210 runs for Hanging Heaton to reach the milestone.
He is also the first player in the club’s history to achieve the feat in the top flight as Hudson’s efforts came in Hanging Heaton’s first season in the Bradford League when they were in the old second division.
Connolly and captain Gary Fellows shared a sixth century stand for the opening wicket as their 153-run partnership set the platform for an 83-run win to put them on the brink of a first league title since 1999.
Fellows scored his second successive century, hitting four sixes and nine fours on his way to 116, as Heaton posted 244-6, with Curtis Free (3-57) pick of the Cleckheaton bowlers.
Overseas player Muhammad Rameez produced another excellent spell of left-arm spin bowling in returning 5-31, taking his tally for the season to 52 league wickets.
Off spinner Callum Geldart (3-42) supported as Cleckheaton were restricted to 161-9 after Qaisar Ashraf offered late resistance with 41.
Defeat for Cleckheaton saw them slip into the bottom two in what is now a four way race to avoid the drop.
Heaton require just 15 points from their final two games to clinch a first top flight title in 18 years after Farsley and Woodlands both suffered defeats.
Farsley went down by 124 runs to New Farnley, while Woodlands saw their slim chance of taking the crown ended with a six-wicket defeat against Townville.
Sweden captain Mitch O’Connor struck a century as New Farnley dealt a hammer blow to Farsley’s title ambitions.
O’Connor struck four sixes and 14 fours in his 106 and was well supported by opening partner Simon Lambert (41), captain Lee Goddard (56) and Andrew Hodd (35) in a large total of 288-7.
Chris Henry was again the pick of Farsley’s bowlers with 3-54.
None of the Farsley batsmen were able to take control of the daunting run chase as spinners Luke Jarvis (4-44) and Dave McCallum (3-45) got to work and the home side were bowled out for 164.
Woodlands saw their title hopes ended when they were bowled out for 106 against Townville.
Spinner Jack Hughes (4-22) and Shkym Haynes (3-35) did the damage and Kieran Collins (38) was the only Woodlands batsman to make a decent contribution.
Brayden Clark (38) and Hughes (29no) saw Townville ease to their target.
Townville maintain their hopes of a top three finish and they are six points behind Woodlands.
The penultimate round of matches this Saturday, when matches move to noon starts, sees Hanging Heaton at home to relegation threatened East Bierley.
Farsley travel to Woodlands, who must win to maintain their hopes of finishing second, while Townville make the trip to Pudsey St Lawrence.