Mold, Brymbo and Hawarden bid to avoid relegation

Reporter:

Tom Norris

The race for Premier Division safety is set for a sprint finish heading into the penultimate weekend of the campaign.

Mold and Brymbo finally have their heads above water with two matches remaining, although neither are safe given that second from bottom Llanrwst are only two points behind while Hawarden Park are also nervously looking over their shoulder.

With Llanrwst set to entertain rock-bottom Pwllheli tomorrow, and seventh placed St Asaph, who host Bangor, also not mathematically safe, there will be plenty of twists and turns between now and next Saturday night.

Mold captain Usman Butt, who has seen his side record three successive league victories at just the right time, is confident his side have the ability to continue their winning run against visiting Connah’s Quay.

“I just wish we were a few points and a few places higher up the table,” said Butt. “All four of the teams at the bottom won though and a few other sides are getting dragged in.

“Connah’s Quay will be a difficult game, but if we can put pressure on them then we can win the game.

“We need to bat and bowl well, and if JP (van Aswegen) comes off, then we can get another win.”

Butt’s confidence stems from the fact that Mold overcame Bangor without a major input from star player van Aswegen, who bowled just four overs and scored only three runs.

Instead, captain Butt took four wickets and scored 59, while Chris Boulton hit an unbeaten half century.

“It was perfect,” said Butt. “It was good to do it without JP and we now know we can do it without him, which is important.”

On his own performance, he added: “I had a pretty good day, but I’ve felt pretty good with the bat all season without getting big runs.”

Standing between Mold and a fourth successive win is a Connah’s Quay side chasing the runners-up spot.

Quay boosted their chances of finishing directly behind champions Menai Bridge by beating Pontblyddyn last weekend, a result which moved them to within five points of second placed Mochdre.

“We seem to be playing the in-form teams at the moment,” said Quay captain Gavin Parry, who went on to speak about Mold’s threats, adding: “If we can get JP out and Usman then we have a good chance.”

Brymbo are equally confident of avoiding the threat of relegation, especially after two perfect back-to-back victories over St Asaph and Hawarden Park in recent weeks.

Llandudno, smarting from losing their league title, head to Tan-y-Fron tomorrow and Brymbo skipper Joss Roberts is relishing the challenge.

“Confidence is high at the moment and the whole team are playing well, contributing and enjoying their cricket,” said Roberts, who has the luxury of naming an unchanged team tomorrow.

“Llandudno have been the team to beat in the last few seasons, but with the way we are playing we know we have a real good chance of another positive result.”

Hawarden Park captain Tom Ducker knows his side must pick up something from tomorrow’s home fixture against Menai Bridge - or face an anxious final day of the season.

The Flintshire outfit suffered a 10-wicket defeat to fourth from bottom Brymbo, which has left them just 14 point clear of the drop zone.

Tomorrow’s match with champions Menai Bridge is crucial to Hawarden if they want to prevent a nervy trip to Bangor in seven days’ time.

“We are right in the relegation battle if results go against us,” said Ducker. “We were hoping to get the points we needed to be safe against Brymbo.

“But we couldn’t manage to do that and we face another important game against Menai now.”

While Connah’s Quay play their part in the relegation battle, Pontblyddyn, who sit fourth, attempt to boost their chances of finishing second by winning at Mochdre.

Despite their defeat to Quay last weekend, Pont captain Jeff Lituri hasn’t given up on second place, insisting: “It’s not gone at all, especially with Mochdre and Connah’s Quay pkaying each other next Saturday.”

Rhys Jones and Lewis Davies return for Pont.

See full story in the Leader

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