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Ilkley on verge of ending long top-flight absence
Ilkley will clinch promotion from Division Two of the Aire-Wharfe League if they can beat Thackley on Saturday - and Rawdon could also make sure of joining them in Division One if other results go their way.
Having dropped only one point in their last five completed games, Ilkley will start as firm favourites to return to the top flight for the first time since 1993 and just two years after a six-year stint in Division Three.
When the sides met in late June Thackley seemed the more likely candidates for promotion, then in second place to Ilkley’s seventh.
But with Alex Bailey and Jonathan Hughes leading the way – a combination that has scored more than 1300 runs between them – Ilkley won and started a run that saw them take 23 from the next 24 points and climb into contention.
Rawdon only dropped out of Division One two years ago and finished third last season. They will be expected to complete the double over Green Lane tomorrow and will be sure of promotion if Knaresborough lose at North Leeds, but will probably have to wait another week before breaking open the bubbly.
At the other end of the table, Bolton Villas need three points from their last two games to be sure of keeping Bardsey in the second relegation spot.
Villas face a nervy trip to Colton, conquerors of Knaresborough last week, while Bardsey entertain out of sorts Adel.
In Division One, champions Beckwithshaw will expect to pass the 100-point mark against Pool while behind them three clubs slug it out for runners-up slot.
Bilton currently hold it but will face a fierce challenge from Saturday’s visitors Burley, who are only three points behind.
Otley are also three points back and they travel to Collingham with Stewart Smith looking to add to his 640 runs so far this season.
But most of the spotlight will be on Upper Wharfedale and Horsforth, the two sides separated by just a point in the battle for the second promotion place.
Wharfedale travel to Woodhouse for what should be a comfortable win but the home side have players like Farouk Allam who can swing a match single handed.
Horsforth face a difficult trip to fourth placed Illingworth who have just missed out this season and who took four points off them earlier in the year.
Ricky Palacio will be hoping for a big innings when Addingham play host to Hall Park, giving him a chance of topping a thousand runs for the season.
Olicanian travel to New Rover while Silsden entertain Alwoodley who are looking for a rare fourth successive win.
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