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3 Table-toppers lose this week

Veterans League

Review of last Tuesday's matches in the 10-Man League

In a week when the leaders of 3 of the 5 divisions in the 10-Man League were beaten we review the key results and the impact they have on the top and bottom positions in all 5 divisions.

Lockwood Con's bid for an 8th successive Division 1 title took a massive setback this week when they went down 2-7 at Longwood on Tuesday. That leaves them 6 points behind 2nd placed Kirkheaton Con 'A' on the same number of games played and 13 behind the leaders Golcar Lib 'A' who have played a match more than them. With only 3 matches left to play that is a massive difference to recoup and their best bet may be the result of the last match of the season between the top two coming to their rescue.

The Kirkheaton Con team were without a match this week but Golcar continued their winning run with a 6-3 win at Lindley BC 'A'. They remain favourites for the title with a 7-point lead and two home matches to come. That was the only away win of the day in the top division with regulation home wins for Waterloo, Cowcliffe and Rastrick consolidating their places in the table as the current placings take on an increasingly end-of-season look about them.

A 1-8 away defeat for Lindley Lib 'A' at Elland C&BC 'A' means that they are relegated and will probably be joined by their neighbours from Lindley BC who are 20 points adrift of safety with only 3 matches left to play.

Division 2 leaders Milnsbridge 'A' lost a second successive away match when going down 2-7 at Slaithwaite but that won't worry the leaders too much as they retain a 16-point cushion with 2 matches left to play. Lowerhouses remain the most potent threat and the team now most likely to accompany them into the top tier for next season. An 8-1 home win over Hemplow 'A' means that they are now only 2 points from claiming the second promotion slot with a match in hand over the two teams above them.

Almondbury BC 'A' lost second place for the first time in several months despite beating Thongsbridge 'A' 7-2 as they have been overtaken by Netherton Con 'A' who had a whitewash 9-0 home win over Bradley & Colne. Also joining in the promotion tussle are New Mill 'A' after an 8-1 away win at Brockholes 'A' pushed them firmly into contention and their fixture coming up against Lowerhouses could be key in determining which team will be joining Milnsbridge at the top level next year.

The key relegation battle fixture between Lockwood Con 'B' and Thorpe Green went the way of the visitors with a 5-4 scoreline. These two teams came up together from Division 3 at the end of the 2018 season but their fortunes from then have been very different with the Lockwood Con team finishing one place above the relegation places for the last two years and the pull now seems too great to resist for the third time. Whereas Thorpe Green have finished 3rd and 5th in those same two seasons and maybe this year is just a blip before returning to the higher regions of the table next year, who knows? For now, they have a 12-point lead over the Lockwood team which seems adequate to ensure their safety.

Division 3 leaders Linthwate Hall suffered a rare defeat when losing 3-6 at the home of their nearest rivals but with a lead of 13-points they remain well on course for the title. That result will probably mean that their opponents, Holmfirth 'A', get promoted along with Linthwaite Hall with a final day home fixture against lowly Springwood acting as insurance should their trip to Denby Dale the week before not finish the job off. With their two main rivals both losing their matches this week it seems that Holmfirth are destined for that second promotion place after Golcar Lib 'B' lost 3-6 at home to Huddersfield Recreation Club who were winning only their second away match of the season. Skel Windmill's promotion hopes were also setback by a 3-6 loss to a rejuvenated Kirkheaton C&BC 'A' following up their 9-0 away win at Denby Dale last week and seriously damaging another team's promotion aspirations this Tuesday.

Springwood are making a real go of their survival hopes after a 3rd win in their last 5 matches this time at the home of one of their main rivals for survival, Almondbury Lib. That means the teams are now level on points and 5 points off the drop zone. Springwood seem well positioned to take full advantage of that with a home match coming up against bottom-of-the-table Lindley Lib 'B'. Marsh United 'B' are the current residents of the 2nd relegation spot but with a game in hand over all the other contenders although a programme containing games against Linthwaite Hall and Golcar Lib 'B' means the cards are stacked against them.

Lindley Lib 'B' could have done with the two bonus points that an aggregate win could have brought them but missed out with a 114-118 outcome from their 4-5 home defeat by Paddock I&C. With only two matches to go (against Springwood at home and Denby Dale away) and still 8 points adrift of safety then things are looking pretty bleak at present. With the club's 'A' team already relegated things can only get better for this club which has been such a stalwart fixture of the Veterans League for so many years.

The third table leader to lose this week was Meltham 'B' who are top of Division 4 but unlike their Division 2 and 3 counterparts this result could be a disaster in their pursuit of the title and possibly even promotion. Losing to your main rivals is never a good outcome especially when that defeat moves the teams level on points as Outlane benefitted from a 6-3 win and still have a game in hand over the Meltham team. But it could get worse as wins for Primrose Hill Lib and Ravensknowle Park puts them both within range of overtaking the leaders as well. A third successive win for Primrose Hill Lib this time at home to the Rugby Club by 7-2 and a return to winning ways for Ravensknowle Park with an 8-1 home win over Lindley BC 'B' signalled a welcome return to form after a couple of heavy defeats.

Things remain very tight at the bottom of the table with 3 of the bottom 5 teams recording welcome wins this week with the two losers, Milnsbridge'B' and Almondbury BC 'B', now firmly entrenched in the relegation conundrum. The 1-8 home defeat for Milnsbridge 'B' against Brockholes 'B' will send out serious warning signals to all those involved as the bottom three teams all won this week and pulled in the difference in points to engulf an expanding number of worried teams, and if they aren't worried then they should be.

As well as Brockholes great win at Milnsbridge, bottom team New Mill 'B' also won with a 7-2 score over Elland C&BC 'B'. Those results still leave the Brockholes and New Mill teams in the two relegation places but only the top four teams are now mathematically safe from relegation as things begin to get very hot in the nether regions! In fact the bottom three teams all won this week as Thongsbridge were the third winners and a 7-2 home win over Almondbury BC 'B' propelled them up two places to 8th but they are still heavily involved in the battle for survival.

With 8-1 home wins for the top two teams in Division 5 both Kirkheaton Con 'B' and Marsh Lib remain on course for honours with the Kirkheaton side already promoted and now needing 6 points from their final two fixtures to add the title. Marsh Lib's win over Kirkheaton C&BC 'B's means that they need 9 points from their three remaining matches to taste the success of their first step up since joining the League in 2019 and finishing third in both of their full seasons since then so they are well ready to step up as well.

The 'Wooden Spoon Worry' now firmly rests with Holmfirth 'B' after they lost 3-6 at the home of their nearest rivals, Hemplow 'B', who now have a 4-point lead over them.

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