Survival is priority as Lightcliffe bid to finish on a high

Alex Stead of Lightcliffe hits runs
Alex Stead of Lightcliffe hits runs

Lightcliffe’s first team are gearing up for a relegation dogfight as the season draws to an exciting climax.

With a cup final appearance on the horizon, skipper Alex Stead is trying to keep feet firmly ‘on the ground’ in the Wakefield Road camp.

There are just five games to go in a season that has seen plenty of twists and turns. The Wakefield Road faithful have been left scratching their heads; one week amazing highs, the next disappointing lows.

The league table underlines the task facing Stead’s charges. The aim is simple: win two of the last five games, pick up a few bonus points, and top-flight status will be secured.

Stead remains upbeat. He said: “If we stay up and win the cup final it will have been a season of joy. There are five teams in the mix to go down. We just have to make sure it’s not us. We have the players to deliver some big wins in the coming weeks.

“This Saturday we entertain Saltaire and it’s a real 40-pointer. We are expecting a big Wakefield Road crowd to turn up and cheers us to victory.”

Stead has a full squad to choose from, with Leicestershire CCC trialist Dan Ahmed available after a couple of weeks in the 2nd X1. Richie Powe has promised a big innings from the middle order and Rob Burton is expected to deliver in the autumn days of the 2015 campaign.

The cup final is on August, 30, but Stead has issued a “minds on the league” memo to his squad. “If our minds wander to the cup final, we could end up in a messy relegation scrap. I want to lift that cup on August 30, but I also want to secure our Division One status. It promises to be an August to remember. What a season.”

Lightcliffe’s 2ndXI fixture was one of only three Bradford League 2ndXI matches to get any cricket played on Saturday. The benefit was six extra points gained on their rivals.

Alex Tait’s season’s-best of 88 was the fulcrum of a 201 score supported in fifty partnerships with James Horne (37) and Tom Powe (22). Tait was quick to pounce on anything short, hitting the ball to all parts of the Bennett Lane complex. Powe punched the ball through the covers in a classical manner. Horne, celebrating fatherhood, was in fine form and deserved a bigger score. Captain Michael Brooke declared to allow Hanging Heaton 17 overs in which Lightcliffe managed to claim four wickets. There was an excellent, pacy spell from Irsaalan Ahmed (two wickets) and wickets for Marcus Kelly and Dan Ahmed.

Points awarded of nine to Lightcliffe and seven to Heaton (as opposed to the three for a match abandoned with no play) means the team are now level on points with Bingley.

With the team playing bottom-of-the-table Keighley next week and thereafter three of the last four fixtures being against the top three teams in the League, the incremental points gained may prove priceless in the battle to retain their Division 1 status. Alex Tait said: “That was the best knock of my career. I felt in sublime form. What a vital nine points for us. I am delighted.”