IMPRESSIVE Shepley are focused on winning the Romida Sykes Cup for the first time in their history after a stunning semi-final success.
SP Singh set up the last-four victory against Golcar at Marsh Lane with a splendid unbeaten 116 to add to his Drakes ton of the previous day, and then some outstanding fielding and bowling – most notably from the miserly Craig Glover – took them to a commanding 94-run margin.
With Marsh Lane bathed in sunshine and looking every inch a suitable venue for the final itself, skipper Danny Glover won the toss and elected to bat in front of a big and vociferous crowd.
Singh and Tom Denton put on 27 before Will Hinchliffe broke the partnership, only for Tim Rees (33) to help Singh put on another 80.
If Golcar thought they might inspire a collapse it never materialised as Liam Wiles and Singh scored at better than a run a ball in a terrific and match-defining stand of 122.
Wiles delighted the home faithful with some fine boundary-hitting, finishing with 69 off 63 balls, while Singh played the perfect anchoring role.
Amar Rashid (21) and Huw Ellis (15 not out) made timely contributions as Singh proved immovable, and Shepley’s total of 289-4 looked an imposing one.
For Golcar to press for victory, it seemed skipper Steve Whitwam would have to match his heroics of the league victory at Scholes, when he carried his bat for 165, but he was caught by Rees off Singh for 27 with the total on just 41.
Mick Illingworth went immediately afterwards as Craig Glover’s accuracy – he conceded just 16 off 11.5 overs – proved too much for the Premiership visitors.
Lee Baxter (66) did his best to match Singh’s effort of providing a batting backbone, reaching his half century off 140 deliveries as others fell around him, and Rashid took advantage of Glover’s stranglehold to claim four for 72).
Danny Glover did his bit with two for 35 as his brother finished with two for 16, while Andrew Sykes (on his birthday) caught the eye behind the sticks and Oliver Huntington in the outfield.
Shepley – who lost their previous two finals (the last 22 years ago) – will now face the winners of next Sunday’s second semi-final between Cawthorne and Skelmanthorpe in the final at Elland on Sunday, August 7.
The Paddock Shield semi-finals are also this Sunday, when Golcar entertain Slaithwaite and Scholes host Kirkburton at Chapelgate.