Pontefract League: Askern confident about step up after sealing Division Two title

Nazir top-scored for Colne with 19
Nazir top-scored for Colne with 19

Newly-crowned Division Two champions Askern Welfare are confident they can quickly adapt to life in the top flight.

Welfare, who have lost just once this season, brushed aside bottom club Whitley Bridge on Saturday to seal the league title.

And the club, according to secretary Paul Bradbury, are ready to embrace the challenge of playing Division One cricket next year.

“I think we’ll compete in Division One,” said Bradbury.

“It all boils down to players. This season we’ve had a strong core of players and if we carry that into next year, we’ll be fine.

“There are three top teams in Division One. Everybody else can beat everybody else. I’m confident we can make the step up.”

Scott Mantovani took 6-42 to help skittle Bridge for 88, a total which posed no problem at all for Askern.

The victory left Welfare an unassailable 34 points clear of second-placed West Bretton with two games remaining.

Bradbury said: “I think it’s having a good core of players that’s been the key to our success.

“Our main players have been available every week. They’ve been committed to playing, and as a team we’ve performed well over the course of the season.

“It’s hard to single any players out but Scott Mantovani has been excellent with the ball, and batting-wise Nick Bisby has scored over 400 runs.”

Meanwhile, Barnby Dun could yet make it a Doncaster one-two in Division Two, as they continue to put pressure on West Bretton.

While West Bretton’s game against Hemsworth fell victim to the weather, Barnby Dun beat Sandal by six wickets to move within a point of the second automatic promotion place.

Barnby Dun host Knottingley on Saturday.

At the other end of the table, Hatfield Town are still not mathematically safe following their 33-run defeat at Featherstone.

Town’s Luke Cockburn claimed a sensational 8-15 to help dismiss Featherstone for 141 but Hatfield fell short in their run chase.

Hatfield currently lie three places and 11 points above the drop zone.

Likewise, in Division One, neither Hooton Pagnell or Fishlake are mathematically safe, heading into the penultimate round of fixtures.