LIKE British Rail, Andy Bairstow says Pudsey Congs are getting there.

JCT600 Bradford League champions as recently as 2010, Congs were bottom of the First Division on June 7 on 43 points with no wins from their opening nine matches, and 15 points adrift from safety.

Since then, however, they have won three of their last four matches to haul themselves out of a relegation berth.

Yeadon (80 points) and Morley (99) are in the demotion positions but it is incredibly tight from the Scatcherd Laners right up to fifth place.

Seasoned player Bairstow says: "Yeadon might struggle a bit being 19 points adrift but only 17 points separate Morley from Hanging Heaton (116), and that will make for some very interesting cricket over the next nine weekends.

"The Bradford League is really competitive this season, and if you aren't on your game you can get your backside bitten."

Crucial to Congs' survival hopes was their four-run victory over Morley at the Britannia Ground last Saturday.

"It was huge in terms of our season," admitted Bairstow, "and it was a real see-saw contest.

"We would have taken our total of 231 beforehand, although it might have been a bit shy on what is a really good wicket.

"At one time it looked as if Morley were going to breeze it but once we had taken a couple of wickets, it always looked like it would go right down to the wire."

One thing that has spearheaded Congs' improvement has been their form in knockout competitions.

They are through to the final of the Heavy Woollen Cup against Townville at Spen Victoria on Sunday, August 3 (noon), and Bairstow said: "It is only the second year that we have entered it, and the match against Delph & Dobcross in the second round was very good."

It has all helped Congs to make up for last season when they lost to Scholes in the second round on the toss of a coin over the phone.

"That was very frustrating," confessed Bairstow, "but we are playing without pressure in the Heavy Woollen and it hasdefinitely helped our league form."

Tomorrow, however, Congs face the ultimate test – at leaders Cleckheaton – and Bairstow is hoping his team don't revert to the form they showed on June 21.

"We were dismissed for 91, and Farsley bowled well, but we are just not a side like that ."

Woodlands, who are 24 points behind Cleck in second place, are at Hanging Heaton, while third-placed Pudsey St Lawrence (143) are at home to Yeadon and fourth-placed Farsley (139) are at Bradford & Bingley.

Top match in the Second Division is third-placed Keighley hosting Gomersal, who are sixth.