Yorkshire League: Sheffield and Phoenix United and Collegiate continue impressive starts to the new season

Billy Root of Sheffield Collegiate CC took four wickets against Rotherham Town
Billy Root of Sheffield Collegiate CC took four wickets against Rotherham Town
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Four weeks into the season and United and Collegiate have both made promising starts in the new Yorkshire South Premier League.

With a win, a loss and a shared cancellation under their belts, both clubs took on traditional South Yorkshire rivals.

After losing at Barnsley, Collegiate visited Rotherham Town, the club with no victories and no points after three games. Collegiate were able to welcome back skipper Matt Dixon, plus Billy Root and Eliot Callis plus keeper Chris Pursehouse from the Shaw Lane defeat, but were in the field first up as the home side chose to bat first.

Rob Shaw made a double breakthrough removing Starkes for a duck and Mahmood for nine. Hayton and Mirza added 55 but the introduction of Root and Dixon to the attack allowed Collegiate to chip away at the vulnerable home line up. Wickets fell regularly as the home side got in, but then got out and Root finished with 4-48, Shaw taking 2-30; Mirza’s 41 the home side highlight. After the break, Rotherham’s attack made their mark.

Gidana took three early wickets with the score at just 39, with Callis and Root both dismissed cheaply. However Simon Guy stepped up and Dan Priestley gave excellent support as the visitors moved to 135 before Guy fell for a vital 58. Priestley continued the valiant display and despite two further quick wickets, former Town player Pursehouse struck the winnings runs with 12 overs remaining with Priestley undefeated on 52*. Gidana excelled with 4-39 but the 12 points were Collegiate’s and the Barnsley defeat was forgotten.

United travelled to Doncaster with the sides in contrasting form. United had hammered Rotherham all over Bawtry Road the previous week, but inserted their hosts at Town Fields. Openers Attenborough and Ward started well, but the introduction of James Exley saw their demise and the score at 56-2. Only Luke Townsend made any significant impression on the scorer’s laptops after that point, as skipper Azeem Rafiq (3-24), and Suleman Saleem (3-18) ripped their way through the home side’s middle order. Exley returned to take the final wicket to finish with 3-37 and Doncaster were rushed out for 135 with six overs remaining, Townsend unbeaten on 37*.

Since the nervy win over Whitley Hall in the cup, United have looked to be aggressive with the bat and that theme continued. After Anjam (15) had seen off the shine Danial Rafiq was dismissed for a run-a-ball 13, bringing brother Azeem to the crease. A half century for a third successive game took his side home, ably supported by Saleem (43*) as United coasted home by eight wickets in just the 26th over for a second successive victory.

These two victories put the two city rivals into fourth and fifth place in the league respectively and confirmed them as South Yorkshire’s top two sides at this stage; not necessarily what was expected at the start of the season, given the recruitment elsewhere. However the season is still young and there is much still to be done. Collegiate are back at Abbeydale on Saturday after two successive away games, hosting Treeton, while United have a tough trip to joint leaders Wakefield Thornes.

Standings (four games): App Frod 48, Wakefield Thornes 48, Cleethorpes 36, COLLEGIATE 28, UNITED 28, Wickersley 24, Aston Hall 24, Whitley Hall 14, Doncaster, 14, Treeton 12, Barnsley 12, Rotherham 0.