The race for the Pontefract League crown took another twist at the weekend with a surprise defeat for leaders South Kirkby while rivals Streethouse were enjoying a victory.
The Division One title could now be going right down to the wire with Kirkby’s lead at the top cut to six points with three matches to play.
Up against a Darton side in danger of getting dragged into a relegation scrap, the table toppers must have felt confident of picking up more winning points. But they suffered a batting collapse after looking set for a good total when on 156-3. After a stand of 78 runs between Stephen Ashworth (36) and Lee Tarbuck was ended the game dramatically changed.
Tarbuck soon followed Ashworth back into the dressing room as he was out for 77, having hit 11 fours, and from a position of strength Kirkby subsided to be all out for 182. Sahej Preet Gabadia, with 6-27, did most of the damage.
It was not plain sailing for Darton’s batsmen, however, as Adam Rollin (5-46) hit back for Kirkby. When the ninth wicket fell the visitors still needed 10 runs for victory, but their last pair got them over the line.
Streethouse ensured they kept the pressure on the leaders with a seven-wicket success away to Brodsworth Main.
Craig Bryant helped set up the victory when he took 4-50 as Brodsworth were bowled out for 168. Scott Bland, Kevin Marshall and Brent Law each chipped in with two wickets. Jonathan Hughes then led Streethouse home with an unbeaten 69 that included nine boundaries while Connor Fisher hit 39 and Law 38no.
At the other end of the table Hemsworth MW were back to winning ways to boost their hopes of avoiding the drop as they beat Fairburn by eight wickets.
Jack Whale (42no) and Max Heritage (34no) brought them home after a good job in the field saw Fairburn all out for 122. Jack Heritage took 4-27, Jake Taberner 2-16 and Max Heritage 2-32.
The result lifted Hemsworth out of the bottom two and they are 14 points ahead of Brodsworth Main and 16 ahead of Old Sharlston, who were beaten by 20 runs by Frickley Colliery.
After Frickley set a challenging target in reaching 223-4, Sharlston had a good go of chasing down the runs, but were all out for 203.
Lee Capstick (76no) and Muhammad Khan (71no) shared an unbroken fifth wicket stand to pave the way for Frickley then Jason Mills (5-64) and Mohammed Ayub (4-40) bowled well.
Elsewhere in Division One, Ackworth were successful in their run chase to beat Rothwell by six wickets.
Set 195 for victory, they won with 12 overs to spare as Jack Willis (86) led the way and got support from Dave Harris (48no) and Jordan Page (35).
Earlier, Nigel Malyan took 3-30 and Shaun Longfield 3-38 as Rothwell made 194. Derrick Hammill, with 57, was their top scorer.
For more reports from the Pontefract Cricket League, see this week’s edition of the Pontefract & Castleford Express