SYKES Cup finalists Shepley opened up the Drakes League Premiership title race by defeating leaders Delph & Dobcross on a day when both the top two sides crashed.
With Hoylandswaine hammering Kirkburton at Riley Lane, there are now just five points separating five clubs, which sets up a tasty scenario for the last third of the season.
Over at Delph, the top three home batsman all perished to the Glovers – Craig taking two and Danny one – as the leaders slumped to 37-3 before Faisal Butt pulled off a rescue act with 12 fours and three sixes in a knock of 93, backed up by Luke Hargreaves (44) to lift Delph to 185-7.
In reply, Tim Rees batted sensibly for his 45, while Amar Rashid (50) and Nigel Hoyle (30) just did enough to get Shepley over the line with two wickets to spare.
Meanwhile at Riley Lane, second placed Kirkburton totally collapsed against the medium pacers of Ranjit Don-Bandula who took out four of the top five batsmen reducing the home side to 29-5, with only Oliver Davidson (40) showing much resistance against the in-form and definitely ‘up for it’ Hoylandswaine team.
Charlie Roebuck, Josh Ingham and Matt Garretty all lent Davidson a little support, but an all-out total of 136 was hardly likely to challenge Swaine’s powerful batting line-up, and so it proved as the visitors ran out winners by seven wickets, John Sadler hitting 41, Alex Morris 32 and Michael Cranmer an unbeaten 29.
League champions Honley moved back up to joint second, although they didn’t have things all their own way in a low-scoring game against Marsden.
Evergreen bowler Ritchie Howarth clinched the Examiner prize for winning the race to 50 League wickets, when he got the five scalps he needed with an 18-over stint costing him just 47 runs, while new signing, spinner Yasir Shah picked up four for 19 as Marsden were sent back for 97.
Missing opener Simon Kelly, who suffered a leg injury the previous night in the 20/20 defeat to Kirkburton, Honley lost four wickets for 68, but Max Joice’s 33 and an unbeaten 21 from Shah was enough to seal the six-point maximum.
The day’s top bowling performance came from Scholes’ Aussie Jarrod Lee who claimed six for 22 to skittle Elland for just 52 – with No11 Stuart Fletcher the only batsman in double figures, along with the 14 extras after they crashed to 27-9!
Iqbal Khan’s 24 not out saw Scholes home by eight wickets, while the other Sykes Cup finalists Skelmanthorpe were also pulling off an eight-wicket win against Broad Oak, James Crossland bagging six for 30 to dismiss the visitors for 95 before Haroon Rashid made an unbeaten 38 in reply.
Steve Whitwam hit the day’s only ton as Golcar knocked off Shelley’s 248-6 tally, in which Peter Drysdale finished unbeaten nine short of his century.
Whitwam recorded his fourth century of the summer, making 113 and putting on 79 for the first wicket with Lee Baxter (35) as Golcar kept pace with the leaders with a three-wicket victory.
At the foot of the table, Slaithwaite threw themselves a lifeline with a one-wicket win over Barkisland.
Clayton West stayed ahead of the field in the Championship with a seven-wicket win over Almondbury, while Meltham defeated Lepton thanks to 87 from Nadeem Ashraf and 60 from Ibrar Hussain.
Chris Cowell (78) and Mohammed Usman (43) steered Holmfirth to 224-6 against Paddock before Max Morley and Sam Denton each picked up four wickets in a solid win for the home side.
There was no change in the Cedar Court Conference, where runaway leaders Armitage Bridge were too good for Micklehurst, Carl Jump once again providing the inspiration with a half-century followed by a four for 24 return, supported in the bowling attack by two of the club’s younger players, Joel Harrison and Jordan Williamson, who each took three wickets in the 54-run win.
Thongsbridge also picked up a maximum, but it was a closer call as they needed 54 from bowler Ijaz Shah to make a modest 157 total before Tom Raven-Hill picked up his best haul for the season with six for 59 to dismiss Linthwaite for 138, of which Asnad Yousaf scored an unbeaten 59.
Cawthorne maintained their hopes of promotion in their first season in the league with a 46-run win over Lascelles Hall.
Mike Burgess was Cawthorne’s top scorer with 65 not out with good back-up from George Parkes (39), Paul Osborne (39) and Chris Matthewman (31) as they totalled 229-5.
The Hall then crumbled to 63-7 as Jake Rodgers took six for 55 before Matthew Essex, batting at No9, hit a creditable 70.