By Jamie Harrison

Sykes Cup finalists Moorlands went down fighting at home to league leaders Hoylandswaine, a week before the two rivals face off in the league’s showpiece final.

Thongsbridge had the bit between their teeth when they landed a hammer blow on Delph’s hopes of avoiding the drop as they were replaced at the bottom of the table by Armitage Bridge who scored a back-to-back victory to boost their own chances.

Almondbury Wesleyans put more distance between them and the bottom three with a success at home to Kirkburton along with Broad Oak who won at Premiership pacesetters Honley. 

Moorlands v Hoylandswaine 

Moorlands put in a performance full of heart but it wasn’t enough to pull them away from the relegation zone as they went down by 27 runs at home to Hoylandswaine. 

The sides will meet again a week later in a rerun of the fascinating 2021 final and this match didn’t disappoint either. Spinner Siraj Sajid took 4-94 and James Stansfeld 3-43 to restrict Swaine to 212ao in a brisk innings that was over in 34 overs. Furquan Shafiq (62) got the visitors off to a blistering start with a searing showing from just 29 balls and Arron Lilley (53) made his second consecutive half-century, this one coming in a breezy 33 balls. 

However wickets fell just as quick as Moorlands countered. Dangerous opening pair Junaid Khan and Muhammad Azharullah were kept in check and at 180-6, Moorlands were well in the hunt. James Rawlinson (66) demonstrated another steadfast knock, just as he did in that memorable final win (he was Man of the Match), but he eventually ran out of partners. 

Max Morley (3-44) and Umer Yaqoob (2-19) removed Moorlands’ more potent batsmen and the home side ran out of impetus finishing 185ao in the final over.

Shepley v Armitage Bridge 

Jack Hinchliffe sent Shepley plummeting to defeat and handed his side, Armitage Bridge, a lifeline in their relegation dogfight as they earned their second straight victory and their first success on the road in the league. 

The young medium-quick pacer took a splendid 5-53 with opening partner Maahir Eksteen (3-18) also excelling in a tight 15 over spell. Earlier, Bridge had ground out 176-9 with captain Jaycub Curtling (30) top scoring. 

However Shepley seemed mortally wounded on 74-9 until number 10 Oliver Davidson began to set about Bridge’s bowlers. Last man, Sam Askey dug in for a remarkable 7no from 39 balls which freed up the cavalier Davidson to land some lusty blows. He was eventually snared, caught by Curtling on 80 from 61 balls to snatch victory away from the hosts and move Bridge off the foot of the table.

Scholes v Barkisland 

Scholes boasted two centurians as they amassed a meaty 312-7 at home to struggling Barkisland. Yaasir Imtiaz (100) and Benji Birkhead (101) compiled the lion’s share of the runs from an entertaining first innings. 

Benji’s brother, Brad Birkhead, hammered a breezy 41 from 19 balls and opener Jack Shelley had earlier made 48 as Barkisland’s bowlers struggled to contain the free-scoring hosts. Young batsmen Harry Finch and Jasper Male both scored matching 40s for the away team but were never in the contest as Louis Brook led the way with 3-35 in Barkisland’s 190ao reply.

Honley v Broad Oak 

Fletcher Coutts sent confidence levels surging for Broad Oak with a superb all-round performance as they subdued second placed Honley. 

Coutts hit 64 as Oak put up a strong 232-7 first innings total at a team who usually relish the chase. Honley weren’t at their best, particularly missing key opener Simon Kelly, although Harry Moore made an encouraging 31 in his absence.

Coutts claimed 3-18, including potent overseas man Lewis Evans (21), during a match winning display for the visitors who bowled out the home side for 110.

Almondbury Wesleyans v Kirkburton 

Bryn Jenkins led his Almondbury Wesleyan side further towards safety with another morale-boosting victory at home. Kaye Lane has turned into somewhat of a fortress with Kirkburton the latest team yielding to a side enjoying life in front of their own spectators.

Jenkins (37) made the most out of a dogged team performance as they set 166ao. Wesleyan warhorse Matt Henshaw then derailed Kirkburton by taking 5-43 with his best showing of the campaign. 

Seasoned ‘Burton man Craig Fletcher (49) was unable to shepherd the tail over the line, being last to fall with the visitors all out for 151.

Thongsbridge v Delph & Dobcross 

Thongsbridge inflicted what appears to be a fatal blow to Delph & Dobcross’ survival hopes after they cruised to an easy win over the tops during a preview to their T20 Trophy Final the following day. 

Delph are now 11 points from safety with matches running out and they disappointed with the bat after being inserted. Promising youngster Lucas Selby (26) made the most for the hosts but they were kept well under control by in-form bowler Tom Raven-Hill (6-50. 

Delph overseas man Nayyar Abbas (4-50) helped reduce Thongsbridge to 20-3 but they sufficiently recovered thanks to Pragam Sharma (33) and skipper Alex Kemp (30no) as they replied with a winning DL target of 104-5.

Golcar v Skelmanthorpe 

Syed Rizvi’s flamboyant innings lit up Lidgett Lane as Skelmanthorpe crushed relegation-threatened Golcar. Former Friarmere man Rizvi hammered 114 from 53 balls in an innings that contained four fours and 14 maximums as they comfortably chased down Golcar’s total via DL. 

Steve Whitwam made a classy 93 and James North 82 to provide the bedrock of Golcar’s 238-5 batting first. Skelmanthorpe were given a DL 209 target in 40 overs and despite falling to 48-4, Rizvi’s pyrotechnics ensured Skelmanthorpe maintained on course for a top half finish whereas Golcar slip to seven points from safety.