BIRSTALL go to Wakefield Thornes for their penultimate game with their All Rounder Cricket Equipment Central Yorkshire League Premier Division safety virtually assured after an eight-wicket win over Altofts.
Visiting Altofts were reduced to a shambles at Leeds Road.
After arriving with only ten men, four of whom were juniors, they then saw opener Brent Law, their skipper and wicketkeeper, forced to retire after only 17 balls, and with Birstall's Craig Wood picking up 5-55, Altofts were all out for 88 in 23.5 overs.
Birstall made full use of their good fortune as they hammered their depleted opponents, making 91-2 in only 12 overs to claim six crucial points in their fight for Premier Division survival. Wood top-scored with 38.
Promoted Hopton Mills' defeat at the hands of bottom club Hunslet Nelson helped Birstall's cause but they were plunged deeper into trouble themselves and must win at home to third-from-bottom Carlton to avoid an early return to the Championship.
Mirfield Parish, at home to title-chasing Townville, are still in the hunt for a third-place finish after their five-wicket win at Wrenthorpe but Scholes continued their downward spiral as they made only 140-9 in 50 overs at struggling Carlton on their way to a five-wicket defeat.
Championship winners Batley won by just two wickets at home to Oulton but defeats for third-placed Liversedge, by six wickets at East Leeds, and second-placed Buttershaw St Paul's, by 56 runs at Wakefield St Michaels, means an outright winner between these two in Saturday's final game will decide the promotion race.