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10-Man Division 1 relegation lottery

Veterans League

Preview of the matches to be played in the 10-Man League Divisions 1 & 2 on 29 August

Lets take a closer look at the relegation situation at the foot of Division 1. I think that it is a safe assumption that Milnsbridge BC 'A' will be relegated and that may well be confirmed as early as Tuesday. So that leaves one more definite relegation place and probably a second one as well if the League go ahead with their well-publicised intent to rebalance the divisions for the start of next season. The League table below shows that Longwood and Elland C&BC both sit in those positions at present. But it is not that clear-cut that they will remain in those places for the rest of the season.

The table below excludes Milnsbridge 'A' and shows the remaining fixtures for the four teams most closely involved in the relegation battle. That is not to say that it will be restricted to these four as there are another four teams within range and they all need more points to ensure their safety for next season. The four teams most closely involved are Meltham, Cowcliffe, Elland C&BC and Longwood. The Yellow-shaded matches are fixtures between teams in the bottom five places at present. The Blue-shaded matches are against top three opponents.

Working downwards and starting with Meltham who are in 9th position and have played one more match than any of their other rivals and they have a bye on the final day of the season. They have the hardest run into the end of the season as all their remaining opponents come from the top half of the table including the leaders. They finished third to bottom last season and if the League had decided to go ahead with their rebalancing at that time then they would have been a casualty of that.

Cowcliffe have lost 8 of their last 9 League matches including the last two to 0-9 scorelines. They are in 10th position and in their worst form of the season and despite a Team KO Final appearance last week are clearly short on confidence at present. Last season they finished 4th from bottom but 22 points above the 2nd relegation place. They still have to play 3 of their bottom 5 opponents as well as going to Champions elect Golcar Lib 'A' who have beaten them three times already this season. Once in the League, once in the Team KO Final and also in the Bistro (80-81 without the handicaps applied).

Elland C&BC have never finished lower than 5th in the last 4 seasons in Division 1 so their presence in 11th place and in the drop zone is a bit of a surprise. The purists would say that they are too good a team to get relegated but the facts indicate otherwise. Three of their final five matches are away from home. Their away points tally (27) is the worst of any of the four teams in this table. They have still to play 3 bottom 5 teams where the final-day confrontation at Cowcliffe is building up to be a relegation decider.

Longwood are in 12th position and are 6 points adrift of safety and have to play three of their main rivals all of them away from home. If they can continue to show the run of form which has seen them win 4 of their last 5 fixtures including wins over the top two teams in the table, then they have every chance of escaping the drop. With that big gap to safety, it will only take one bad result to seal their fate although the momentum is with them.

Elsewhere in Division 1 this week it is likely that the runners-up slot will change hands again this week as Rastrick, who currently sit there, have a bye week. Kirkheaton Con 'A' and Lowerhouses are the prime contenders to move in with Lowerhouses having home advantage over Clayton West and the Yetton boys have to go to Marsh United 'A' who also retain hopes of a top two finish.

In Division 2 the relegation battle is less intense with at least 3 of the 4 likely teams to go down already determined. What is left to be resolved is if Thorpe Green can put a run together to narrow the 8 points gap there is to Linthwaite Hall. Their case is not helped by the fact that they have played one more match than any of the teams around them. This week they are at home to New Mill 'A' who could do with the points themselves to move them out of the vision of the bottom 5 teams. Meanwhile Linthwaite Hall who have only won away from home once this season are at Holmfirth 'A' who already seem doomed to drop through the relegation trapdoor.

The leaders are Netherton Con 'A' and they go to 3rd placed Lindley Lib 'A' this Tuesday. There is currently a 12-points gap between the teams which the visitors will intend to preserve but the home team need a win if they still have ambitions of an immediate return to the top flight. Their main rivals are Shepley (bye this week) and Lindley BC 'A' who have a match in hand over the three teams above them in the table and go to play Almondbury BC 'A' this week.

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