Cricket: Tickhill close in on Premier return

Tickhill's players celebrate Mitchell Phelps' wicket against Shiregreen. Picture: Andrew Roe

Tickhill's players celebrate Mitchell Phelps' wicket against Shiregreen. Picture: Andrew Roe

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Tickhill moved a step closer towards Premier Division cricket next season after an easy win over Shiregreen at Alderson Drive.

After Shiregreen won the toss and elected to bat, the leaders contained them from the outset and they were bowled out for 103, with Alex Rowland the pick of the bowlers with 5-21.

Tickhill raced to an eight-wicket victory, with opener Aaron Haycock scoring 54 in 43 balls, including nine fours and a six.

Meanwhile, at Green Lane, Conisbrough’s slip in form continued when they fell to a five-wicket defeat against relegation-threatened Aston Hall.

After winning their first 12 games of the Division One season, Conisbrough have now just won one in six and have slipped out of the promotion places.

Conisbrough decided to bat first and were indebted to their opener Matthew Barnes, who hit 75 in their total of 200-9.

Nigel Walker claimed three for 41 and Luke Hall three for 63 for the hosts, who then strolled to a comfortable win by five wickets, with 12 overs to spare.

Todd Saxelby steered his side to victory with 53 supported by Robert Ross (39) and stumper Kieren Gray (39 not out).

Intriguingly, Conisbrough still have to travel to play Tickhill and Darfield, who leapfrogged them into second spot, and secretary Peter Smith is confident that promotion can still be achieved.

“There’s only a slim possibility of us winning the league now,” Smith, whose son Nathan captains Rotherham Town in the Yorkshire League, said.

“But the gap is still only two points between us and Darfield, so it’s far from over.

“I don’t think Tickhill will lose another game, apart from maybe the one against us!

“So it’s all set up for a final-day showdown against Darfield, to see who gets promoted.”

Smith added: “Premier Division cricket would be a big boost to us, both in terms of status and the quality of cricket.”

Conisbrough’s poor run of form has coincided with injuries to three of their star men, who have played through the pain barrier in an attempt to reverse the club’s fortunes.

Captain Gary Strephan is set to undergo a minor knee operation, so could miss the rest of the season, and opening bowlers Scott Lowe and Stuart Bellwood are also struggling with injuries of their own.

Bellwood and Lowe have taken 35 and 31 wickets respectively this term, and Strephan has smashed 784 runs, at an average of over 46 with a high score of 191*, and has also taken 38 wickets.

“Stuart has been struggling with a bicep injury, for the second half of the season,” Smith added.

“And so to lose him, plus Gary and Scott, is a real blow, especially at this stage.

“We’ve lost our captain, our leading run scorer and our three leading wicket takers.

“These are the guys tha we build a team around, so it’s now up to our second teamers to step up and fill the void left by these guys.”

Much of the bowling responsibility will now be shouldered by Mark Neale, who is the club’s leading wicket-taker this season with 39.

He could only take one on Saturday, however, against Aston Hall, and it is now over a month since they last tasted victory, against Barnsley on July 20.

“It is disappointing, there’s no way of getting away from that,” Smith added.

“We’ve been in good positions to win games, but then we’ve not finished teams off, through either a combination of poor batting or lacklustre bowling.

“But the injuries have hit us hard, and we can only hope that Gary is back for the last couple of games of the season.”

This weekend, Tickhill travel to mid-table Barnsley, while Darfield are away at second-bottom Bradfield Village Fellowship.

Conisbrough host Norton Woodseats, who are level on points with third-bottom Aston Hall and fighting for their Division One lives.