Skipper Mark Lawson is upbeat about New Farnley’s prospects despite seeing his side slip to their third defeat in five matches following their promotion to Division One in their first season in the JCT600 Bradford League.

The former Central Yorkshire League club went down by 31 runs at reigning champions Cleckheaton and Lawson admitted: “We are not the finished article at the moment.

“We have had the opportunity to win every game so far but we have not been confident enough to get over the line. That is due to a lot of players who have not played at this level before.

“The club are delighted to be in this league but we don’t expect any miracles like winning the title this year,” added the former Yorkshire leg spinner, who highlighted a host of talented young players at the club.

“We have just got to get smarter and work harder with the bat. Generally our bowling hasn’t let us down – it is our batting.”

On his side’s defeat at Cleckheaton, Lawson said: “We worked hard in the field, our spinners bowled well and we got ourselves in a position to win the game. The pitch turned a bit and the ball kept low, which made it hard to score runs, but our batsmen have got to work hard on these pitches.”

New Farnley had Cleckheaton struggling at 38-3 but the home side recovered as a result of a fourth-wicket stand of 63 between the Nicholson brothers, Ian (43) and Michael (39).

They lost two wickets at 101 and Michael Nicholson at 144 before an enterprising stand of 55 between James Lee (44no) and Richard Whitehurst (31) enabled them to earn a fourth batting point with 201-7 as spinners Lawson and Dave McCallum each took three wickets.

The visitors were well placed at 100-3 thanks to former Woodlands opener Scott Richardson (44) and ex-East Bierley batsman Lee Goddard (31). However, their hopes of victory all but disappeared after they lost four wickets for 21 runs, sliding from 100-3 to 121-7.

There was a glimmer of hope when hard-hitting Nick Walker came to the wicket but, after making a pugnacious 40, he was caught behind off Cleckheaton’s new Pakistani leg spinner Tanzeel Altaf on 149, with New Farnley 53 short of their target with only two wickets left.

Not surprisingly, the task proved beyond them and they were all out for 170, with slow left arm bowler Andrew Deegan and skipper John Wood each taking three wickets.

It was only Cleckheaton’s second win of the season as they try to recreate the form that won them the title for the first time last season.

Skipper John Wood said: “We needed that win. We haven’t played very well this year. New Farnley are a good side and we needed to play well to beat them.

“It was a slow, turning wicket and it wasn’t easy to bat on but, after getting 200, we thought we had a good chance.

“We are nowhere near where we were last year and a lot of improvement is needed but this result puts us among it and that is all we can ask until we start playing better cricket.”