Leeds City manager Tom Liddell bemoaned his side’s lack of consistency after he watched his team thrash table-topping Beeston St Anthony’s 5-0 in a fractious clash on Saturday.
Four red cards were shown, including three during one ugly first-half incident, as third-placed City put a run of three winless games behind them to move within five points of the top spot with a game in hand.
The Adel-based side finished as runners up last season and headed into the game on the back of defeats to Huddersfield Amateur and Robin Hood Athletic, upsets that their manager says remain all too frequent for a side who have finished in the top four in each of the last five seasons.
“The cancer for us is when we play the so called lesser teams,” Liddell said. “For some reason we find it harder to get motivated for those games than if we’re playing the four or five top teams, and that’s why we’ve never won the league, it’s as simple as that.”
Results like Saturday’s have given them every opportunity to amend that record.
City sit in third, five points back on the top spot with a game in hand.
“We dominated them from start to finish, to be honest,” said Liddell. “They had a lot of players missing and came to play for a point.
“Beeston did well with nine, to be fair to them. I’ve got a lot of time and respect for a lot of Beeston players.
“We were good though, and we deserved the win. When it was eleven on eleven it was a really good game and at times it was really good to watch.”
The match was turned on its head towards the end of the first half when three players, two from Beeston and one from Leeds, were sent off after Matt Moon’s adjudged headbutt sparked a mass scuffle.
From there, Leeds were able to take control and had goals from Chris Fisher and Joe Tasker, plus a hat-trick for substitute Mark Ferguson to thank for their most impressive result of the season.
“The referee said there were punches thrown but, to be honest, he got a lot wrong,” Liddell admitted. “He was harsh on Beeston, I thought, and they were a bit unlucky.
“The first incident was a sending off, everybody could see that, but afterwards it was a bit of pushing and shoving and the other two reds were very harsh. The ref started booking people left, right and centre after that and they got another man sent off right at the end.”
With five Premier League sides in West Riding Cup action elsewhere, Horbury Town took the opportunity to propel themselves into fifth thanks to a dramatic stoppage-time winner courtesy of Josh Stacey.
Shelley were the side left head in hands at the 2-1 defeat, and they remain seventh despite their record of one win in six.
Further down the table, Huddersfield Amateur continued their impressive run of form as they overcame struggling Sherburn White Rose 3-1.
Huddersfield leapfrogged absent Headingley to go ninth, whilst Sherburn remain in the early-season relegation mire in 15th. One side not looking over their shoulder are resurgent bottom-placed Hall Green.
Their spirits will have been heightened further after a thrilling 4-3 win over Hartshead. Last season’s second-tier champions have taken seven points from a possible nine in their last three matches, including a coupon-busting 3-0 win over Beeston St Anthony’s, and are quickly taking to life in the Premier Division after a slow start.
It was a good weekend for 11th placed Hunslet, who recorded their third win of the season to go within a point of Robin Hood Athletic, who they beat 3-1.
Division Two leaders Wyke Wanderers have been left licking their wounds after an under-par performance saw them crash to a 3-0 defeat to Boroughbridge on Saturday.
Boroughbridge are this season’s surprise package in third place, and thoroughly deserved the three points according to Wyke secretary Dave Ryan.
“There was a combination of things that went wrong on the day,” Ryan said. “There was some poor decision making at times and some poor defending.
“Boroughbridge have a couple of big lads and it was one of those days, very windy and the rain was beating down. They absolutely deserved the win, we were poor on the day.”
Despite the defeat, Wyke remain a point ahead of nearest rivals Rawdon Old Boys, but have played two further matches.
“You get days like that in a season,” conceded Ryan. “We’ve said from the first weekend that promotion is the aim, there are some good sides, but that’s where we’re aiming.”
With only two other games in action in Division One, the table remained largely unchanged save for Altofts’ descent to 12th, thanks to wins for Aberford Albion and Leeds Modernians.
Aberford produced their performance of the season to thrash East End Park 5-1, whilst Mods won out in an altogether more nip-and-tuck affair, edging past Rothwell 1-0. The match-up between second top and second bottom, Rawdon and Brighouse, was postponed.
In the third tier, table topping Otley Town remain unbeaten, but were made to work at third-placed Knaresborough Celtic during a 3-3 draw.
Following last week’s 7-1 hammering of Kellingley Welfare, fourth-placed Kirk Deighton Rangers continued their rich vein of goalscoring form with a 5-1 win over Ripon City. James Woodward bagged a brace for the away side, and there were also goals for Joe Turley, Rob Holliday and Luke Duberry.
Jamie Davies and David Bell were the heroes for Swillington Saints, who ran out 2-0 winners at Huddersfield YM. Garforth Rangers and Old Centralians were postponed.