South Yorkshire League: Top three pull away, as Hall win thriller against rivals

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At last a bit of daylight at the top of the Premier Division as Elsecar, Treeton and Whitley Hall open an eight-point gap on their pursuers.

But one game at least produced some quite outstanding cricket, and one of the best finishes witnessed for many years.

Hallam and Whitley Hall are close neighbours, good friends and great rivals and, in the corresponding fixture at the end of May, Whitley won by two wickets with just two balls remaining in a nail-biting finish.

On Saturday, Whitley batted first and were determined to take the early initiative, attacking strongly in the opening overs.

They found scoring more difficult against Humphrey Emery (15 overs for 31) before launching into the spinners at the end, as the last two overs went for 42!

Jaco Castle (73) and Alex Fletcher (72*) seemed to have made their position safe with 266-6.

Undeterred, Hallam set off to build a platform. Vaidik Raj (42) and Nick Dymock got them off to a good start before Emery (69), Mark Williams and then Joe Cooper took Whitley on.

But but with 12 overs to go they still needed 100 to win, with Jim Tasker bottling up one end and with five to go, they needed 50 with only three wickets left.

James Chetwood came in and slammed 35 in 17 balls. From there, the runs required went from 39 from four overs, 19 from three and then 17 from two, with the last pair in.

Then it came down to the last over: six to win, one wicket left, but Jaco Castle to bowl. Chetwood aimed one final blow to settle the game but was castled and Whitley had won by five runs.

What a game!

Elsecar had a more serene time against Wath. Shahzad Rana (4-31) and Iftikhar Afzal (3-18) kept the early season league leaders down to 125, despite a powerful innings of 48 from 50 balls by Derek Mitchell.

Rana, who last week got three in four balls, went one better this time with a hat-trick. Ainsley Swallow (60 from 69) and Brett Hunsley (37*) then took the current champions to a comfortable seven wicket win inside 25 overs.

Tucked in neatly behind Elsecar and Whitley Hall are Treeton, who beat Norton Oakes after they managed just 90 all out against Steve Foster (4-23) and Muhammad Attari (4-17).

Chris Baker was the top-scorer for both sides with 32 as Treeton made rather heavy going of their task, losing five wickets in the process, including Gareth Davis and Scott Cunningham for 0, as Nathan Musslewhite (3-41) did his best to make a contest of it.

Norton Oakes’s rivals for relegation, Coal Aston were playing bottom club Whiston, and must have hoped they could relieve some of the pressure - but instead allowed Whiston to make the score of the day: 284-4 declared (Andy Tomlinson 61, James Martin 100, Joe Fletcher 95).

Amidst the carnage, Liam Johnson took 2-55 from 14, before doing his utmost to retrieve the situation by scoring 110*. Reece Shutt made 52 and Laurence Browes 43 as Coal Aston reached 257-9 - denying Whiston a potentially-crucial two points.

This weekend the top four should have comfortable wins, Wickersley will try to continue their surge against Hallam and Norton Oakes play Coal Aston in a crucial relegation clash.

n On Sunday, in the verdant arena of South Yorkshire League champions Elsecar, two Sheffield sides - Collegiate and Hallam - took part in the regional final of the ECB National Club Twenty20, with Hallam coming out on top and progressing to the national quarter finals.

Hallam beat Morley in their semi-final, while Collegiate had a more testing time against Woodhall Spa, but combined powerfully to score 180 in their 20 overs, thanks to Billy Root’s 64.

But they found Woodhall matching them blow for blow, only to fall 9 short on 171 - to set up a North region final between the two Sheffield teams.

Collegiate won the toss and elected to bowl but found penetration a bit more difficult. Nick Dymock and Humphrey Emery put on 61 for the first wicket - Dymock bowled by Matt Dixon for 32 - but that brought in Williams who drove powerfully, scoring 60 off 40 balls.

A thoughtful knock of 22* from Harry Bliss took Hallam to 164-5 but the feeling was it might be 20 runs short. Josh Varley had the best bowling figures with 2-16 from 3.

Collegiate set off strongly and kept well ahead of the rate, hitting the bad ball powerfully and seeking to take singles at every opportunity.

But when Root was run out for 57, the innings subsided and Hallam were victorious, Moffat taking the final two wickets to end with 3-31.

Hallam face North-East Champions Great Ayton in the National quarter-final on Sunday at Sandygate, with the match starting at 10am.