MANAGER Mark Pitts says Carlton Athletic are using the disappointment of last season’s near misses as motivation for the new West Yorkshire League campaign.
His side, who last season were edged out of the West Yorkshire Association Premier League title by Beeston St Anthony’s and lost to the same opposition in the County Cup final, disposed of early season strugglers Wetherby Athletic 6-0 on Saturday to stay top of the table and keep their 100% record intact.
“It was a good win,” said Pitts, “we messed up last season by losing a couple of teams that we should’ve beaten, and those banana skins ended up costing us come the end of the season. So far this year we’ve made sure we put sides to bed early and don’t slip up against sides in the bottom half of the table. It’s early days.”
Powerful forward Scott Hargreaves bagged a hat-trick for Carlton to take him in line with team mate Reece Fennell, who bagged one. With seven apiece, the ‘little and large’ duo are top of the league scoring charts along with with Horbury Town’s Luke Playford, and Pitts is excited to see how far the two can fire his side.
“They’re both massive players for us. We signed Scott 18 months ago at the stage where he was just playing golf on a Saturday, and he’s an absolute beast of a player. He’s been around the leagues at clubs like Ossett Albion and he’s a lad I’d wanted to sign for a long time. Reece is smaller and lightning quick - they’re completely different players but they’re great for us.”
Andrew Payne and substitute Matthew Jackson completed the rout for Carlton, who have won each of their seven matches and now face two weeks off due to many of their squad’s league representative commitments. Despite this break, Pitts sees no reason limit to what they can achieve this season.
“We’ve taken a lot of hunger and desire from what happened last year and it’s given us a lot to prove. The County Cup was really hard to take, but we need to make sure we’ve got that edge over Beeston in particular, and that we’ve learned from what happened. It was their time last season, hopefully it’s ours this time. That’s football.”
It is Beeston who are leading the chasing pack after bouncing back from defeat at Headingley by beating struggling Oxenhope Recreational 3-1, despite a missed penalty and a red card for John Mallinson. A James Allan strike and a double for substitute Liam Moore did the damage for the champions, who were made to fight for their win by a dogged Oxenhope performance.
Elsewhere, third-placed Sherburn White Rose remain among the early pace setters after a Danny Middleton hat-trick took them to a 4-1 win at Brighouse Old Boys. Alex Booth saw red for the visitors and Richard Heins scored a consolation for Brighouse who have cause for concern having secured only 5 points from their opening 9 fixtures.
Joining them on 5 points are Hunslet Club, who did little to ease their early season woes with a 3-0 defeat at Pool, who climb to seventh after a Josh Wagstaff brace and a goal for Jamie Algar.
Robin Hood Athletic recorded their second win of the season at home to Ilkley Town in a nip and tuck match in which Brian McIlear scored the winner in a 1-0 victory. The result is goal-shy Ilkley’s fourth 1-0 defeat in their last five and sees them leapfrogged by Robin Hood into eleventh place.
Further up the table, fourth-placed Field kept their good run of form going with a 2-1 win at Horbury Town. The result keeps them on 18 points, just 3 away from Carlton albeit having played a game more.
Leeds City retained their unbeaten start to the season with a 2-0 win over Shelley. An Adam Dutson strike continued their record of having lead at half-time in each of their league fixtures so far this term, before Charles Lumley sealed the victory just before the hour. Fifth-placed City have the meanest defence in the league and will be hoping to make a charge towards the top of the table in the coming weeks.
Having hammered Sherburn last time out, Headingley, now in ninth, were edged out 2-1 at home to Knaresborough Town, who recorded their third win on the bounce to climb to ninth.