Bierley target eighth cup win

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EAST Bierley will be aiming to win the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup for an eighth time on Sunday when they meet Manningham Mills in the final at Spen Victoria (start noon).

Bierley have a proud tradition in the competition and they will be appearing in their 20th final.

Bierley’s last win came in 2009, when they overcame Farsley by 123 runs, while they were beaten finalists to Pudsey St Lawrence last season.

Bierley captain Lee Goddard had been relishing the prospect of returning to the club where he played as a junior but he has been ruled out after having his appendix removed last week.

Goddard said: “It would have been lovely to go back and play at Spen in Sunday’s final.

“I was down there last week and was speaking to the guys who coached me as a six and seven year old. Spen is a great ground and when spectators turn up in numbers it creates a good atmosphere.”

Former Scotland captain Gavin Hamilton, Bierley’s leading run scorer in this season’s Priestley Cup, will captain them in Sunday’s final, although Goddard will be there supporting his teammates from the sidelines.

Goddard added: “Manningham are a bit unpredictable but they have got to the final on merit and no bad side has ever reached a cup final.

“We had a cracking game with them earlier in the season when they made 260 and we knocked them off and they have some good players in Farakh Hussain, Gulsheraz Ahmed and their overseas (Noman Ali).”

Goddard has also praised the unsung heroes behind the scenes at the South View Road club, adding: “Ray Davis works tirelessly but the tea ladies and groundstaff also work hard and it would be nice if we can bring the cup back to the club and enjoy the celebrations together.

“We will prepare for Sunday’s game as we would for any other.

“Sometimes you can over hype finals by meeting early and doing things differently but that can put added pressure on you.”

Bierley’s hopes of overhauling Bradford League Division One leaders Woodlands were dealt a blow last Saturday when they suffered a 10-wicket derby defeat at the hands of Cleckheaton.

Bierley were put to the sword by an inspirational bowling display from Yorkshire pace man Iain Wardlaw, as he claimed 7-38.

Goddard, who was one of Wardlaw’s victims, was full of praise for the former Hartshead Moor bowler, adding: “Iain was picked for Yorkshire because he has done well in the league.

“It is good to see a genuine Bradford League player getting a chance and it would be great to see him involved in the Twenty20 finals day.

“Although I would have liked us to put up a bit more of a fight against him, Iain bowled with great pace and in good areas and it was good to watch.”

Bierley, who have slipped to third place, are 48 points behind Woodlands with just five matches remaining and they warm up for Sunday’s cup final showdown with a trip to second-bottom Undercliffe tomorrow (1pm).

Many Cleckheaton followers will have a keen eye on the Friends Life Twenty20 finals day in Cardiff.

Moorend staged a Twenty20 warm-up game against Yorkshire in June when local lad, Tykes captain Andrew Gale, struck a magnificent 146 not out.

Cleckheaton will, of course, be without Wardlaw tomorrow as they entertain Lightcliffe but will look to fellow paceman Jimmy Lee to lead their attack.

Cleckheaton are 45 points adrift of Woodlands, who can take another step towards retaining the title when they entertain Saltaire.

Gomersal and Spen Victoria must keep winning if they are to have a chance of overhauling the top two sides in Division Two.

Gomersal will look to rack up the points at bottom side Brighouse, while Spen entertain ninth- placed Windhill.