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Pudsey Congs left in a spin by Lightcliffe
These are difficult days at Pudsey Congs.
Two years ago Congs won the Bradford League Division One title – their sixth championship in 12 years.
Now, they are battling relegation and, after their six-wicket home defeat against Lightcliffe , which left them two points and two places off the bottom, skipper Andrew Bairstow admitted: “Every game is a must-win game.”
Congs’ win over fellow strugglers Saltaire last week boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation but they were second best against a Lightcliffe side playing at the Britannia Ground for the first time in 20 years after winning the Second Division title last season.
This was a match Congs never looked like winning after a middle order batting collapse that saw them lose five wickets for 18 runs as they slid from 96-1 to 114-6 against Lightcliffe’s three-man spin attack – Chris Greenwood, Josh Wheatley and overseas all-rounder Suleman Khan.
Khan made the breakthrough, bowling opener Gareth Phillips at 43 and then off spinner Wheatley had Babar Butt stumped at 96, to spark the collapse. Wheatley trapped Bairstow lbw at 100 while Khan bowled top scorer Lindley for 36 without addition to the score. The clatter of wickets continued with Khan removing Eugene Burzler at 111 and Mohammed Naved three runs later.
Congs’ horizons were always going to be limited after those blows and their lower order struggled to add 43 in the last ten overs while wickets continued to fall.
Khan finished with 4-36 in 15 overs while Wheatley was equally impressive with 4-42 in 14.
Congs’ total of 157-9 never troubled Lightcliffe’s highly acclaimed batting line-up, particularly with overseas paceman Muhammed Naved not bowling and spinner Glenn Roberts absent.
Former Yorkshire and Derbyshire batsman Chris Taylor and current Yorkshire second teamer Alex Lees set them on their way with an opening stand of 74 before Taylor became the first of Eddie Walmsley’s three victims, caught at the second attempt by Gareth Phillips at wide mid-on.
Lees followed three runs later, trapped lbw by the accurate Walmsley, who finished with the commendable figures of 3-42 in his 15 overs – one of few plus points for Congs.
Lightcliffe also lost Khan and Andy Gorrod cheaply before Alex Stead (35) and Charlie Roebuck (27) guided them home with an unbroken sixth stand of 52.
Bairstow said: “We started very well, but then lost wickets in the middle order and failed to recover. Take nothing away from Lightcliffe. You have got to work hard against them. They have three spinners, which is not something you come across very much in league cricket.
“Realistically we were 50 runs short particularly after the start we had - with 21 overs left we were 100 with eight wickets in hand.
“We are going through a period of change and that is evident from the results but we are getting there.”
In contrast, this is proving to be a happy season for Lightcliffe skipper Jonathan Wilson following last season’s promotion. Wilson insists that Lightcliffe have higher expectations than just staying up. “We are looking to finish in the top half of the table, go from there and then compete right at the top.
He added: “Congs were 94-1 and looking at 200-plus at that stage, but we knew if we took two or three quick wickets and kept it tight we would put them under pressure. Our three spinners bowled really well.”