Bridge sink champs in close contest

Amjin Azam took nine wickets for Warley
Amjin Azam took nine wickets for Warley

Sowerby Bridge indicated that they could be title contenders rather than just early pace-setters with a key victory in the Foster’s Halifax League yesterday.

The Walton Street side inflicted a first Premier Division defeat of the season on last year’s double winners Jer Lane in a close and exciting contest.

The margin at Lane was seven runs, allowing Bridge to take a 10-point lead after seven rounds of fixtures.

Bridge batted solidly if unspectacularly to make 185 for eight off their 45 overs, having been 75 for two at the half-way point.

Chris Whitehill’s 31 was the top contribution and Steve Shannon hit the final ball of the innings over extra cover for six to ensure Bridge took at least maximum batting points.

New boys Sam Wilson and Simon Collins again bowled the bulk of Lane’s overs and were inexpensive, deserving their two wickets apiece.

Lane looked slight favourites but Bridge’s attack came up trumps again with Sam Mellor and Ashton Richardson reducing the champions to 51 for five.

Raqeeb Younas, normally an opener but batting at seven after injuring a thumb earlier, did his best to pull the game out of the fire for Jer Lane with 64 but the home side fell short on 178 for eight.

There was a full Premier Division programme yesterday, because of a blank Saturday in July due to the Tour de France, and teams might have been grateful for the action after Saturday’s wash-outs.

One player who had a day to remember was Warley’s Amjin Azam who helped his side pull off a spectacular comeback win at Sowerby St Peters.

Warley were routed for 93 with skipper Chris Marsh (30) and Liam Keywood (20) providing the only obstacles to Josh Graham (six for 30) and Martin Schofield (four for 39).

However, even the home bowlers’ impressive figures were eclipsed by Azam, who took nine for 30 to dismiss Sowerby for 88 with Dan Crosland (30) and Hayden Bruce (23) the only two in double figures.

Luke Duckitt foiled Azam’s bid for all 10, taking the key wicket of Bruce, who was ninth man out.

Booth are up to third, going above Calder Valley rivals Mytholmroyd, with Warley now fifth.

Booth were emphatic 154-run home winners over Triangle with the help of a 202-run stand for their fourth wicket between Ian Sharkey (93) and Richard Laycock (97).

Booth piled up 312 for six and Laycock, Patrick Thomas and Chris Shannon each took three wickets as Triangle were dismissed for 158.

Mytholmroyd, whose bright start to the season had been ended by a Parish Cup defeat at Blackley eight days earlier, lost by six wickets at Copley after being bowled out for 91.

Blackley continue to pick up after a slow start. They were 31-run winners at Bradshaw, who now share bottom spot with Sowerby SP.

Freddie Fox made 46 and Dan Houldin 36 but the visitors were grateful to number nine Bilal Sheraz for hitting 36 to get them up to 170.

That proved enough as Kamran Khan (five for 52) ripped out the home middle order.

It looked all over at 52 for seven but Bob Fairbairn (53) and Chris Pell (22) gave Blackley a scare with a stand of 82 before the last three Bradshaw wickets went down in quick succession.

Southowram, like Sowerby Bridge, also had a notable win by a seven run margin.

They got the better of last year’s runners-up Thornton thanks to experienced Mushtaq Mohammed.

He took seven for 65 to limit the visitors to 237 for eight after Thornton’s new opening partnership of Chris Ramsden (68) and Wayne Cotton (33) had compiled another century stand.

Earlier, ex-Blackley and Mytholmroyd captain Dave Townsend had helped rescue the Rams from a perilous 49 for four with 75, adding 72 with Scott Griffiths (34). Al Newton’s unbeaten 66 inflicted further damage and a target of 245 was just beyond the visitors.