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Keighley delighted to reach Shield final
Captain Alex Towler believes strength in depth and experience have been crucial factors behind Keighley reaching the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Shield final.
The Lawkholme Laners made it to the JCT600 Brad-ford League second-team cup competition after overcoming Morley in the semi-final – the fourth time they have beaten a Division One team.
Despite missing regulars Andy Waggett, Luke Chap-man – a century maker in the quarter-final win over Hang-ing Heaton – and Scott Hart-ley, Division Two side Keigh-ley stormed to an eight-wicket victory.
It led Morley skipper Graeme Roberts to tell his counterpart Towler they were the best side they’d played this season. And the Keighley chief said: “In the past few seasons, we have struggled to get players but this year we have been all right.
“(Former first-team skipper) Steve Reape has dropped down into the seconds and Dave Hall (from Culling-worth) and Alan Birkett (out of retirement) have also added experience. We have a good core.”
Wicket-keeper Richard Wood, who returned to the club from Harden this year and played a key role in the semi-final success, is another experienced player to bolster the ranks.
“Having older heads on the pitch to give me advice has helped,” said 28-year-old Towler, who is in his first season as captain after taking over from Paul Wilkinson.
Keighley will take on Woodlands in the final at Farsley on Sunday, August 12, and the skipper added: “The last time we won the Shield was in 1983. That was the year I was born so I’m hoping that’s a good omen.
“It would be nice for the club to win some major silverware as the last time we did it was in 2005 when we won the Heavy Woollen Cup.”
Woodlands are currently fifth in Division One but that should not deter Towler’s troops, who have already dumped holders Gomersal, Pudsey St Lawrence and second-placed Hanging Heaton out.
On claiming those higher division scalps, Towler said: “We’ve not really seen ourselves as underdogs. That’s not us being arrogant. We’ve just been keen to prove we can play against these top sides and do well.
“At the same time, we have had nothing to lose and the pressure has been off us.”
The second team’s semi-final success came just 24 hours after the first team had beaten Morley by 14 runs in a thrilling Division Two clash.
Towler – whose brother Ross was captain of the firsts last season – said: “It was a nice little double as Morley have been a bit of bogey side for the firsts. Max (Davidson, skipper) is a good friend of mine so it was nice to see him and the team doing well.”