Wickersley and Whitley secure promotion... now for the battle for the title

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Not a great day for batting.

On rain-affected September wickets, the bowlers were rampant and games were won by clubs with good seamers and batsmen who could dig themselves out of trouble.

Whitley Hall confirmed their promotion, as did Wickersley, by default. Coal Aston and Wath at the bottom had to wait for other developments to be sure.

The reason Wickersley are up is that the structure of the new Yorkshire League South has changed again.

With the Central Yorkshire League now deciding to merge with the Bradford League, only one of their clubs - champions Wakefield Thornes - will be joining the YLS.

This means there are four promotion slots for the SYSCL, rather than three, and there’s a space for Wickersley to join Aston Hall, Treeton and Whitley Hall.

At the bottom, it means that Coal Aston get a reprieve and, just for this year, there will be no relegation from the top two divisions - so Millhouses Works are safe, too.

However it’s still all to play for between Aston Hall and Treeton to be champions. Aston Hall are in pole position, and deservedly so. They have only lost two games all season.

But because they’ve had more games rained-off, and they’ve got fewer bonus points, they are still only four points ahead.

Should they lose to Conisbrough next week and Treeton beat Whitley, it could all change. On Saturday there were no doubts. They bowled Wath all out for 64 - Josh Coulson had the fantastic figures of 11-6-13-5 - and although they lost five wickets getting there (Shawn Dyson took 4-31), they won comfortably.

Treeton had a very similar game, bowling Houghton Main all out for 73 - Steve Foster taking 7-43 - and they also won by five wickets (despite Foster and Roebuck both going for 0). It could have been even more emphatic. At one stage Houghton were 11-6!

With Whitley Hall playing Treeton last and Tickhill theoretically within catching distance, it was essential they didn’t flinch against Coal Aston - and they didn’t.

Coal Aston were dismissed for 141, Tom Fletcher and Greig Batty getting three each. Antony Wilson (86*) and Neil Longhurst (38*) stormed to the target in 22 overs for just two down – to celebrate a thoroughly justified if jittery passage to promotion over the last few weeks.

Up to the end of June, Whitley Hall were the stand-out team, with no-one to touch them. They’d won all their games, often by huge margins. Since then they’ve lost five.

Wickersley, on the other hand, have been inconsistent all season and so they continued on Saturday, managing only 133 against Conisbrough. Oliver Jackson took 5-47 and Gary Strephan made 56 as Conisbrough deservedly won by five wickets. You can bet they’ll be trying against Aston Hall on Saturday!

However, Tickhill couldn’t take the opportunity to draw level as their old enemy Darfield turned the tables on them in an epic game.

Tickhill made 158, Nicky Page top-scoring with 42. Darfield set off determinedly. They were 134-4, then lost four wickets for one run but clawed their way back to win by one wicket.

The battle of the Melbourne quicks was appropriately even.

Michael Topp (of Darfield) bowled Steve Reid (of Tickhill) third ball for 0, but then Reid bowled Topp sixth ball for one.

Such is friendship!

Meanwhile, Elsecar took some comfort from a poor season, for them, by beating Hallam (who’ve had an even worse one).

Scott Jones made 52 out of 147 all out.

Mark Williams took 4-34 but couldn’t inspire Hallam to get more than 112, Andy Ivill and Saqib Hussain taking four wickets each.

Roll on next year!