Bradford League: Leaders Farsley are happy to go under radar

Farsley captain Ryan Cooper.
Farsley captain Ryan Cooper.
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FOR THE second season running, Farsley have been bang on the money in the ECB Bradford League – and have short-changed no-one.

These are heady days for the Red Laners, flying high at the top of the table ahead of two huge league assignments against champions Pudsey St Lawrence and Hanging Heaton over the next eight days – and they also fit in a Priestley Cup semi-final at home to Methley on Sunday.

James Wainman.

James Wainman.

And specifically on the race for the title, captain Ryan Cooper believes that the greater expectation is on the shoulders of nearest rivals Heaton and third-placed Woodlands – two bonafide league ‘big-hitters’ – in the chase for silverware as Farsley continue to surpass expectations.

On the notion of pressure being firmly on others, Cooper, whose side welcome fourth-placed St Lawrence tomorrow afternoon, said: “Probably. The likes of Hanging Heaton and Woodlands have been big teams for quite a while now.

“I think they are expecting to do well, whereas we haven’t always done well in recent years and have been in relegation trouble. Although last season, we came good.

“I think there is a lot of pressure on others who pay plenty of money, with the likes of Hanging Heaton and Woodlands. But we feel we are as good as them, definitely.”

Tom Hodgson.

Tom Hodgson.

Cooper added: “Everyone is pulling their weight and doing a job. We’re very happy.

“It would be a big ask to go through the whole season losing just once. But you never know and we have just to keep going. We should be there or thereabouts (in the title race).

“We got off to a decent start this year, which we didn’t last year and week in week out we have been performing with a similar team each week. I cannot fault anyone’s effort.

“We have got a bit of everything with some older heads in with a good set of young lads who are playing good cricket such as Dan Hodgson and James Wainman who has come in from Yorkshire.

“We have got good lads throughout and are not really weak in any areas, which is a massive help.

“Young Adam Ahmed has been playing well and week in week out, Chris Henry has been doing really well.”

While striving for a first league championship since 1962, Farsley are also mindful that the history books show that their last Priestley Cup triumph also arrived a fair while ago in 1995.

Farsley will reach their first showpiece since 2011 if they beat Methley on Sunday, the second part of a key weekend home double-header at Red Lane.

Issuing a note of caution, Cooper added: “Hopefully we can get into a final as I don’t think we have won a Priestley Cup final for about 20 years or so.

“Everyone will probably expect us to win (on Sunday). But the cup always springs up an odd upset and there are two Division Two sides in the semi-finals.

“The cup can bring anything and we have just got to keep going and doing what we have been.”

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HANGING HEATON captain Gary Fellows admits that his side cannot afford many more slip-ups if their dreams of a first Bradford Premier League title in 18 years are to become reality.

The Tewits are six points behind leaders Farsley heading into this weekend’s Super Saturday, which sees the top four square off for the second time this season.

Heaton visit the side just below them in Woodlands tomorrow, while Farsley welcome fourth-placed Pudsey St Lawrence.

It is the first ‘leg’ of a big double header for Fellows’ men, who host Farsley next weekend – and the title picture could be a whole lot clearer by the close of play on August 5.

Fellows said: “We play Woodlands and then Farsley and there’s every chance that at the end of these couple of weeks that there might be a clearer picture, if you like.

“It is a very good league where anyone can beat anyone on their day. You don’t just look at these two games, but I would have thought that Farsley, Woodlands and ourselves are the three teams who are thinking that it will probably be one of us who will come out at the end of the season as champions.

“The club over the past four or five years have assembled a good team with a slight addition here and there. We are a good side with good players, but so are Farsley and Woodlands, who have been on very good runs to get to where they are.

“There’s everything to play for and it will be certainly a tough weekend coming up.

“The lads are bang up for it and there’s no doubt about it, you cannot be off your game at any point.

“We realise that if we are to win it, there’s not many slip-ups to have.”

At the other end of the table, a huge game sees Pudsey Congs host Cleckheaton, while Batley welcome East Bierley.

In Championship One, Morley host Wrenthorpe and Scholes entertain Baildon. Methley host Birstall.

The Priestley Cup semis take place on Sunday with Farsley hosting Methley and New Farnley welcoming Undercliffe.

In the last four of the Jack Hampshire Cup, Altofts entertain Wakefield St Michael’s and Hartshead Moor are at home to Hunslet Nelson – with both games also being staged on Sunday.