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Pudsey Congs need a win to kick-start Bradford League season
These are difficult times for Pudsey Congs. The club who once dominated the Bradford League to such an extent that they won five Division One titles in a row a decade ago, now find themselves bottom of the table without a win in their first eight matches.
Yet skipper Gareth Phillips is confident that his team can get out of trouble Phillips, speaking after an 11-run defeat at Lightcliffe, said: “We have had three games rained off and at least two or three of the others we should have won.
“It is down to poor decision-making by our players. We come close every week and then throw it away.
“We just need our first win and we should have won this match to kick-start our season. It was an opportunity lost.
“But I have 100 per cent faith in our players – we just need to show our ability.”
On a damp, turning pitch, Lightcliffe’s four-man spin attack proved too much for the visiting batsmen, although it was mighty close.
A dramatic finish looked to be on the cards when Congs needed 12 runs to win with two overs remaining but only one wicket left.
Unfortunately for them, Mubtaba Aktar – who had done so much to bring Congs back in the game with a pugnacious 35 – got a leading edge to a ball from slow left-armer Suleman Khan and gave a simple catch to Josh Wheatley to seal Lightcliffe’s win.
If there had been a man of the match award, Khan would surely have won it. His fourth-wicket stand of 76 with skipper Jonathan Wilson (34) proved to be crucial as Lightcliffe reached a competitive 183, despite losing their last six wickets for 16 runs in the final five overs.
Khan hit three sixes and six fours in his 58 and then took 5-32 in 14.1 overs to seal Lightcliffe’s victory, while fellow slow left-armer Chris Greenwood gave good support with 3-45.
Congs made a bad start, losing opener Basil Akram to a direct throw from Evan Edwards without scoring, and when opener Callum Geldart was fourth out at 48, Lightcliffe were in control.
Phillips (30) and Andrew Bairstow (35) staged a revival with a fifth-wicket stand of 33 and then Bairstow shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 42 with Joe Greaves before he was given out leg before trying a reverse sweep off teenager Danny Ahmed to leave Congs on 123-6.
Greaves (26) and Aktar kept Congs in the hunt with a flurry of boundaries but Lightcliffe took some vital catches and held their nerve to win.
Phillips said: “We needed more from our top three or four. We gave away our wickets at vital moments but there were two poor decisions – the early run-out of Basil Akram and Andrew Bairstow’s lbw.
“Andrew’s was a key decision. Had he stayed we would have won the game.”
Lightcliffe captain Jonathan Wilson said: “Their batsmen came in and smashed a few sixes and it looked as if it would go down to the wire.
“We knew they had experienced batsmen in their side but we have got four top-quality spinners and our bowlers stuck to the plans we set.
“We kept the runs down, which created pressure, and took some fantastic catches.”