One week to go, but all the big decisions have been made. The two promoted teams to the Premier Division are Aston Hall and Hallam and, sadly, the two who will be dropping down to Division 1 are Green Moor and Rockingham Colliery. In the end it wasn’t a close-run thing. There was a 28-point gap between second and third and 22 pts between tenth and eleventh, though this could become closer next week. Those are the statistics. Some of the key games and two of those today were much closer in spirit and showed the fight and skill level at both ends of the table. Talking of statistics, there was a League record set by Sadrian Ward for Sprotbrough against Collegiate, which will take some beating. Have a look! 
Aston Hall v Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds 
Tenth-placed Barnsley haven’t managed to get more than two points in any game since July, but they have still comfortably avoided relegation. The reasons were all there to see in the game against champions Aston Hall. Their bowling can be accurate and penetrative - three of the five wickets they took were bowled or LBW - but both as individuals and as a unit they were conceding about five runs an over. They have some very good batsmen, but, with the exception of Zak Jahangir who has put up his hand almost every week, they are desperately low on confidence. Of the first five batsmen on Saturday, Nathan Swift and Jahangir both got sixties. The other three got naughts. Aston understandably are, as a team and as individuals, brimming with confidence. Mark Barnard made 67, Joe Stickland 75, Nasir Omar 47, Rob Ward 36, and you get the feeling that if they hadn’t, someone else would have done. Collaboratively, they made 260-6 and when they bowled it was a collaborative effort. The seven wickets that fell were shared between five of them. And four out of six of their bowlers conceded three or fewer runs per over, despite Jahangir and Swift putting on 131 together. The consequence was that Barnsley ended on 184-7, a fair total but 1½ runs per over less than the required rate. It was a significant plus that they weren’t all out, but they lost the match by 76 runs. On the other hand, they achieved the two points needed to ensure their league survival, and maybe that was their sole aim. 
Aston Hall 260-6 (50) Joe Stickland 75, Mark Barnard 67, Nasir Omar 47, Rob Ward 36 
Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds 184-7 (50) Nathan Swift 67, Zak Jahangir 63 
Aston Hall (12 pts) beat Barnsley Woolley Miners 2nds (2) by 76 runs 
Hallam v Green Moor  
Both teams had a purpose in this game. Hallam needed to win to ensure promotion. Green Moor needed to win to give themselves a chance of survival. The consequence was a close and exciting game, played at a bustling pace, with both sides trying their best to win. Hallam made 298, thanks largely to a partnership of 111 by Christian Leddicoat, who made 104 in 76 balls, with nine fours and seven sixes, and Will Newton, who made 61 in 80 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, but they were building on 103-3 by Alex Hughes, Nick Dymock and Rob Basu, made in 22 overs. After Newton was out, the team continued to push the score, even as they ran out of wickets and actually undershot it, finishing with ten balls not bowled. Jake Rodgers and Jonathan Sanders stuck at their task admirably, each taking four wickets in 14 overs. When they batted, Green Moor kept going, led by Ben Simpson with 54, Chris Matthewman 73 and Callum Johnson 55 and, until Johnson was out, were still achieving eight an over and potentially could have won. It took excellent second spells by Smedley and Leddicoat to shut them down, Smedley ending with the outstanding figures of 5-34 in 13 overs. Apart from Leddicoat with 2-41 in 10, everyone else on both sides conceded more than five an over. Green Moor, fell 54 short, but were competing right to the end. The damage to their survival bid was done much earlier in the season but, last week apart (when half the team was missing) their recent performances give reason to think they’ll soon be back up. They have some excellent players, but to survive in the Championship they may need a more even spread of talent. 
Hallam 298 (48.2) Christian Leddicoat 104, Will Newton 61, Rob Basu 32, Jake Rodgers 4-79, Jonathan Sanders 4-76 
Green Moor 244 (46.1) Chris Matthewman 73, Callum Johnson 55, Ben Simpson 54, James Smedley 5-34 
Hallam (12 pts) beat Green Moor (2) by 54 runs 
Shiregreen v Rockingham Colliery 
Rockingham started with spirit but ended with most of it drained away. Aquib Shaikh and Zobair Khaliq removed numbers two and three for Shiregreen for naught each and the score was 6-2, then 15-3 as the other opener fell. As so often though, the Shiregreen middle-order rallied and took the game away from their opponents. Mustafa Hussain and Aslam Hayat put on 108 for the fourth wicket. Hayat and Hamzah Younis put on 55 for the fifth and the game was already beyond Rockingham. Jawad Akhtar bowled well taking 4-65 from his 12 overs, but it was curious that the opening bowlers who each bowled ten overs for twenty odd runs still had five overs each unused at the end, by which time Shiregreen had amassed 237-9. Not so, with Shiregreen’s main bowlers, Imran Khan and Muhammad Khan, who bowled the majority of the 42 overs that Rockingham survived. Imran took 4-40 in 11.1, Muhammad 4-39 in 14, and apart from stout resistance from Jack Riley and Hedar Rasool, who put on 59 together, and an opening partnership of 20, Rockingham struggled to score and they ended on 131. Shiregreen will be fourth in the Championship this season and deservedly so. They came up from Division 1 with Green Moor but have re-established themselves in the top flight with some astute signings; they have played their cricket thoughtfully and will be well-placed for doing even better next year. 
Shiregreen 237-9 (50) Aslam Hayat 89, Mustafa Hussain 31, Jawad Akhtar 4-65 
Rockingham Colliery 131 (42.1) Jack Riley 41, Imran Khan 4-40, Muhammad Khan 4-39 
Shiregreen (12 pts) beat Rockingham Colliery (0) by 106 runs 
Sprotbrough v Sheffield Collegiate 2nds 
This game was most remarkable because of the seven wickets taken by Sadrian Ward for Sprotbrough, only one of which was credited to him as a bowler in his 15 overs. The rest were six catches which I’m sure is a league record for a non-wicket keeper. There are only three people in first class history who have taken more (seven) in an innings – most recently Rikki Clarke for Warwickshire in 2011 – and none in test matches – so six is pretty special. Adam Burkinshaw was one of his victims, but he made 75 in 142 balls and helped his side get a competitive total, putting on 71 with Robbie McKenna for the second wicket, before he became one of Daniel Wright’s four wickets, for 49 runs. The two Matts (Tyas and Williams) did their double act yet again – this time only 46 for the sixth wicket but it was enough to get Collegiate to 205-8. It was a remarkable game overall, from Tate Miller opening the batting, to Ashley Langdale keeping wicket, and especially to George Thompson’s batting at the end. Sprotbrough had started well enough with Tom Pepper and Harry Graham putting on their own second wicket stand of 97. Graham made 67 in 98 balls, with thirteen fours and a six. But by then Tate Miller had come on to bowl and, once Graham was out, he ran through the rest of the team, taking six wickets of his own. Daniel Wright had not succumbed (at first) but he must have felt frustrated as six wickets fell for 28 runs at the other end, especially when he became one of them, leaving Sprotbrough on 153-9, 52 adrift of their target. Miller had 6-39 at the time. George Thompson and Nick Graves were left contemplating oblivion. Thompson hit his first ball for four followed by another five fours and two sixes in the next 39 balls. Graves chipped in with two fours of his own as the pair made mayhem at Collegiate’s expense and won the game unparted, with Thompson on 47 not out. They’ll remember that for a while! An amazing game! Sprotbrough and Collegiate have been up and down the middle section of the table throughout the season. After Saturday they’re at opposite ends but there are only 14 pts separating fifth from ninth so with one game to go, it could still change. 
Sheffield Collegiate 2nds 205-8 (50) Adam Burkinshaw 75, Robbie McKenna 30, Daniel Wright 4-49 
Sprotbrough 209-9 (44.1) Harry Graham 67, George Thompson 47*, Daniel Wright 31, Tate Miller 6-72 
Sprotbrough (12 pts) beat Sheffield Collegiate 2nds (4) by one wicket 
Wath v Conisbrough 
Wath had another of their good days, when they’re far too strong for the opposition, this time Conisbrough. They batted first and had a good opening stand of 41 between James Barnard and Harrison Knowles, before Bradley Williams made 53, taking the score to 120. Jory Bannister and Rob Barlow put on 52 together and Wath were able to reach 218-9 at the end, with Bannister unbeaten on 32. Conisbrough are without Buddhika Sanjeewa, who has taken 63 wickets for them this year, the third most in the entire league, so others had to fill his shoes and Aaron Lowe stepped up with 4-44 supporting Hassan Bin Shahab with 4-62 (making 58 wickets in the season – also in the top ten of the league). Of course, Sanjeewa has also scored nearly 500 runs, so Conisbrough were missing him in both departments. Hassan Bin Shahab batted through for 53 and Hamzah Ilyas made a quick 32 at the start of the innings but no-one else managed more than 12 against Shawn Hopkins, Alex Roebuck and, especially, Rob Barlow who took 3-16 in 11 overs. Conisbrough were all out for 132 and Wath, with an 86-run victory, moved up to just behind them in the table. 
Wath 218-9 (50) Bradley Williams 53, James Barnard 35, Jory Bannister 32*, Rob Barlow 30, Aaron Lowe 4-44, Hassan Bin Shahab 4-62 
Conisbrough 132 (39) Hassan Bin Shahab 53, Hamzah Ilyas 32, Rob Barlow 3-16, Shawn Hopkins 3-40 
Wath (12pts) beat Sprotbrough (0) by 86 runs 
Wickersley Old Village v Houghton Main 
Wickersley, with a hope that if they won their last two games, and Hallam lost, they could still get promotion, batted well against Houghton Main; Johnny Younis scoring 57, with strong contributions from five or six others taking them to 233 all out by the last ball. Michael Bates wheeled away for Houghton with 6-81 in 15 overs. But with the news at tea that Hallam had made 298 against Green Moor, maybe the hope just faded a little. Houghton began solidly and were 138-4 when Yousaf Rehman joined Michael Brown, who had been there from the start, and together they gradually moved towards Wickersley’s total. Wickersley’s overseas fast bowler had gone home the week before, and last week Iftikhar Afzal had been injured and was unable to bowl, so it was a struggle. Mark Cummins bowled 15 overs for 42 and Charlie Harrison had an excellent opening spell of 7-3-9-0, but curiously was never brought back, even when others were going for six or more an over. Brown and Rehman managed their chase to perfection, winning on the third ball of the last over, with Brown carrying his bat for 83 in 154 balls and Rehman striking 58 not out in 51 balls. Houghton have had a disappointing season and will finish outside the top four for the first time for a while, but they reminded Wickersley of their strength on Saturday, just as they had Hallam earlier in the season. Wickersley will be disappointed with falling away in the last two games, but the circumstances were beyond their control and they will know they still have the basis of a very strong side who will be pushing again for promotion next year. 
Wickersley Old Village 233 (50) Johnny Younis 57, Michael Bates 6-81 
Houghton Main 236-4 (49.3) Michael Brown 83*, Yousaf Rehman 58* 
Houghton Main (12pts) beat Wickersley (0) by six wickets 
by Richard Storer 
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