Theakston Nidderdale League: Title race is blown wide open

Joe Furniss took three wickets for Theakston Nidderdale League Divison One leaders Darley CC, but couldnt save them from defeat to Helperby in a low-scoring affair.
Joe Furniss took three wickets for Theakston Nidderdale League Divison One leaders Darley CC, but couldnt save them from defeat to Helperby in a low-scoring affair.

The Theakston Nidderdale League Division One title race was blown wide open after leaders Darley CC suffered a surprise defeat to Helperby in what was an incredible contest.

Duncan Naylor’s team went into Saturday’s fixture 24 points clear at the summit and knowing that another maximum-point haul would leave them needing to win just one of their last two matches to guarantee that they finished as champions.

They were however skittled for just 33 runs, some superb bowling by Tom Messenger (4-17) and Joe Corner (3-9) doing much of the damage.

That should have left Helperby needing to complete the simplest of run-chases, yet with so much at stake the Darley bowlers refused to roll over.

Both of the visiting openers were dismissed before a run had been scored and they found themselves in deep trouble at 0/2 and then 11/5 as Joe Furniss and Rob Nelson both bagged a trio of wickets.

With the league leaders scenting the most unlikely of victories, Helperby skipper Dan Marston eventually stepped up with what proved to be a decisive knock of 12 not out to drag his side over the line at 37/3.

While Darley’s fate remains in their own hands despite Saturday’s defeat, their advantage at the top of the table has been trimmed to just seven points, meaning that the title battle is now a genuine three-horse race once more.

Second-placed Birstwith beat Pateley Bridge by nine wickets having bowled the Badgers out for 115.

Pete Hardisty led the way with a haul of 4-16 before the defending champions wrapped up a nine-wicket success in 21.5 overs, Sam Ryan making 40 not out and George Hirst 39.

Sitting in third position, Goldsborough are back within one win of leapfrogging Darley following their comprehensive triumph over West Tanfield.

Not for the first time this season, Russell Robshaw was in near-unplayable form, helping himself to 5-17.

Graham Shorter also weighed in with 4-30 as Tanfield were bundled out with only 61 on the board.

Will Pleming (33) then helped Goldsborough knock off the required runs inside 15 overs.

At the other end of the table, Dacre Banks got the better of Masham in the battle of the bottom two.

Waqas Rasheed shone again for the victors, scoring 75 in their first-innings total of 191/8.

Captain Craig Broadley took 2-21 for Masham then followed it up with a knock of 43, and although Harry Hill added 40 not out, the basement boys finished 20 runs short on 171.

Chaudhary Anwar-Ul-Haq caused all sorts of problems, scooping 5-38 alongside all-round ace Rasheed (4-20).

Fellow strugglers Kirk Deighton were edged out by Wath & Melmerby in an extremely close contest, but the seven points that they garnered in defeat ensure that their heads remain just about above water.

Henry Blythe (50) and Gavin Mills (42) got Deighton off to a solid start, putting on 77 for the first wicket before Will Powell’s 39 lower down the order saw the visitors to 196 all out.

Sam Wyatt (3-36) and Ben Kettlewell (3-43) bowled nicely for Wath, who were then indebted to Ben Moss when they took their turn at the crease.

He stuck 103 alongside Paul Richardson (47 not out) as the home side wrapped up victory in the final over of the match with just two balls to spare.

Richard Ward was the pick of the Deighton attack, finishing the afternoon with 3-36.

An unbeaten half-century from Peter Carr (61) steered Ouseburn to an eight-wicket triumph at Burton Leonard.

Earlier, Chris Morrison had returned figures of 4-32 as the hosts were dismissed on 114, Sam Crompton (40) their top-scorer.