Pontefract youngsters impress in Yorkshire League

Sam Todd, playing in the Yorkshire League.

Sam Todd, playing in the Yorkshire League.

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Pontefract’s Yorkshire League Premier sides have found life hard so far this season with split resources, but the young fourth team have flourished and won their first three matches.

With high class Indian Pranay Jain, aged 16, leading the team,supported by Sam Todd, 11, Harry Anderson, 13, and Ben Sockett, 13, it is a youthful side managed by Ian Bateman, but they are racking up the wins with Hallamshire third team the latest to be defeated 4-1.

Jain had an outstanding win over Mark Campbell,the EIS fitness expert, who has been James Willstrop’s fitness trainer for several years, and wins by Tom Howell, Anderson and Sockett, making his Yorkshire league debut settled matters.

With Jain on his way back to India,the team face a hard task this week against Queen’s Halifax second team, although the return of Sam Todd after a sporting tour of Amsterdam with Ackworth School will help.

The Premier League first team came close to winning when they lost 3-2 to Hull and East Riding, Alex Hodgetts losing 11-9 in the fifth in the deciding match.

They go to Heaton this week, with Australian Courtney West included in the side.

The Premier League second team are at home to Hallamshire and the third team play York RI.

The National League season starts this week and Pontefract’s opening match is against Leicester, away, when they will be without the injured pair, James Willstrop and Laurens Anjema.

Aqeel Rehmann is also unavailable, playing in Pakistan, but former world number one Lee Beachill and Simon Parke are both available and New Zealander Ben Grindrod, Alex Hodgetts and England International Sarah Kippax make up the team.

Next week sees the second match against National League champions Duffield at home on Tuesday.

Elliot Ridge, 15, performed well in the Leicester Under 19 Junior Open, winning three of four matches. Ten-year-old Layla Johnson did equally well to finish third in the Under 13 Girls championship, coming from 2-0 down to win her third place play-off. She looks certain to be Pontefract’s next England junior international.