Bradford League cellar dwellers Methley dig in for a ‘Great Escape’

Brad Schmulian, of Woodlands, top scored with 54 in the win' at Pudsey St Lawrence. PIC: Steve Riding
Brad Schmulian, of Woodlands, top scored with 54 in the win' at Pudsey St Lawrence. PIC: Steve Riding
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IF YOU think that the Great Escape theme tune has already been doing the rounds at Methley, then you would be absolutely right.

After looking doomed in their quest for Bradford Premier League safety not so long back, Grant Soames’s side are alive and kicking once again.

Archie Scott, of Pudsey St Lawrence, who took 4-57 against Premier League rivals and visitors, Woodlands. PIC: Steve Riding

Archie Scott, of Pudsey St Lawrence, who took 4-57 against Premier League rivals and visitors, Woodlands. PIC: Steve Riding

Back-to-back wins, including a dramatic two-run success over Cleckheaton last Saturday, means that the relegation issue is firmly in the melting pot, more especially with the three sides above bottom-placed Methley in Lightcliffe, Wrenthorpe and Undercliffe all losing on Saturday.

As it stands, with four games to go, just 18 points separate Undercliffe, in ninth, and Methley.

On a dramatic transformation, Soames said: “The Great Escape is a phrase that has been used in the clubhouse.

“Winning the last two games has given us at least an opportunity to stay up. And when you look at the fixtures, we are playing two of the teams still involved in the relegation battle. In many respects, it is in our own hands.

“We have some honest conversations. Although we did feel that when you are down there and struggling, things seem to go against you. But against Townville recently, not only did we play some good cricket, we had that little bit of luck in being one of only two games completed and that felt like a change.

“We went into the Cleckheaton game full of confidence. Availability has also been an issue and, against Townville, we had Matty Waite and Jared Warner available and last week, Matty was available again. Having them available does help.”

Waite’s haul of 5-46, alongside Amir Hussain’s 4-53 helped dismiss Cleckheaton for 164 in reply to Methley’s 166, with Nick Walker top-scoring with 49 for the Moorenders.

Earlier, Methley were in trouble at 98-7, batting first, only to be rescued by a key 37 from young wicketkeeper Josh Neal. Azeem Rafiq took 4-35 for Cleck.

On the victory, Soames added: “Unfortunately, we lost the toss with a lot of rain about on a sporting wicket, but Josh came in and got almost 40.

“We have had people contributing, even when we have lost games. A few more have been contributing recently.

“From the start, I have always had faith. Even outsiders looking in have said: ‘Methley have a good side, why are they down there?’. But when you have a few selection issues, injuries and get into a rut, all of a sudden you can lose three or four games without thinking and you look at the table and are 20, 30 or 40 points adrift.”

Methley trail Lightcliffe by just four points after their 49-run loss against Hanging Heaton (166-9), for whom Nick Connolly hit a fine unbeaten 86.

Replying, Lightcliffe fell well short at 117, with Callum Bethel taking a tidy 5-29.

Wrenthorpe were obliterated for just 32 against Townville, for whom Richie Bresnan took a magic 6-17 – with the victors earlier striking a confident 256-7 with Imran Rafique (74) and Harry Warwick (55) in the runs.

Khalid Usman’s unbeaten 48 could not prevent Undercliffe (119-7) from losing out to near-neighbours Farsley (123-3), for whom Pat Kruger took 3-35 with Chris Beech top-scoring.

At the top, Woodlands took another big step towards a league and Priestley Cup double with a 74-run success over Pudsey St Lawrence.

Classy Kiwi Brad Schmulian again came to the party with 54 to help Woodlands reach 179-9, with Archie Scott taking 4-57.

In reply, Saints were dismissed for a disappointing 108, with the ubiquitous Chris Brice taking 5-30.

Woodlands are 29 points clear with a game in hand on Bradford and Bingley (183-9), who lost by 42 runs to New Farnley (225-9).

Farnley’s best were Dave McCallum (5-59) and captain Lee Goddard (50).