With thirteen places and a break of division between them, many might have seen Hartshead’s 3-1 League Cup victory over Leeds City on Saturday as a classic cup upset.
Not in the eyes of Hartshead joint-manager Nathan Page, who claims he saw the result coming despite the great admiration he holds for the high-flying Premier Division opposition.
“I must admit I had a slight feeling in my stomach that we would get a result,” he said.
“I knew that if we played like we have been all season that we would at least run them close, and that’s what we did. We made life hard for them and that’s all you can ask for.”
Hartshead, who are chasing promotion from Division One and are now unbeaten in 14 matches, went into the match in bullish mood thanks to the message of both Page and his colleague Andy Lambert.
“We made sure they weren’t too concerned. We know we’ve got a very good squad this year and that we really can match anyone on our day. We were definitely underdogs but we faced up and pulled it off.”
A nicely finished lob from frontman Andrew Wood saw the home side take the lead on a dreadful pitch Page admitted was a big disadvantage to Leeds, who took time to come to terms with the fact they were unable to play their regular slick passing game. Winger Joe Dixon levelled for the visitors just before the break.
What followed was a spell of tremendous pressure from the Premier League side, which was only overcome by a combination of committed defending and good luck. Substitute Marcus Newby restored the home side’s lead with a cross-shot that found its way into the opposition’s net, before an assist via the referee’s heel put the icing on the cake as Wood struck home the third.
“We had a couple of really big slices of luck and although I think we really were worthy of our win, it always helps to get the rub of the green,” Page said. “It’s definitely fair to say that Leeds were a bit unlucky, especially for the first 20 or 25 minutes of the second half when they really upped their game and showed their class.
“The pitch was always going to be a massive help and, to be honest, I was a bit surprised when the game was on. We’re good at home and we’ve tried to make it a bit of a fortress, we have been for years.”
Page hopes that this home form will continue, and that they can add silverware to what has been a case of ‘so far so good’ this season.
“Our aims are definitely to get promoted, to win the Wheatley Cup again, and to make it to the semi-finals of the League Cup. With the squad we’ve got, I see no reason why we can’t achieve all three of those aims.”
Another top-flight team who were bundled out of the competition by lower-league opposition was 10-man (nine with a second red shown after the final whistle) Hunslet Club, who were beaten in a 4-3 thriller at Division One Leeds Modernians.
A Chris Swaine brace and a goal for the later sent off Patryk Baryski proved insufficient for Hunslet. Andrew Atkins, Adam Plattew and a double for Danny Claxton did the damage for the home side. Samuel Kerymeh was the other man to see red for the visitors. There were no other major Premier Division shocks as Beeston St Anthony’s saw off East End Park 5-3, Ilkley Town beat Wyke Wanderers 6-1 and Sherburn White Rose beat Swillington Saints 4-1.
Featherstone Colliery needed extra time to swerve a potential banana skin against Division Three champions elect Rawdon Old Boys as they won 5-2.
Horbury Town hammered bottom-tier strugglers Middleton Park 9-0, whilst Premier Division basement dwellers Wetherby Athletic took full advantage of the break from league action to celebrate an 8-1 win over Baildon Trinity Athletic. Fellow strugglers Brighouse Old Boys turned the tables on Shelley in a 5-3 win, Field beat Knaresborough Town 2-0, and Robin Hood Athletic recorded a 4-0 win over Division Three mid-tablers Nostell Miners Welfare.
There was a smattering of league action below the top tier, where in Division One, Howden Clough beat Whitkirk Wanderers 3-1, Huddersfield Amateur hammered Old Centralians 4-1 and rising Kippax beat Boroughbridge by the same scoreline.
In Division Two, AFC Horsforth’s promotion hunt stayed on the right track as they disposed of fourth-placed Rothwell 4-3, Altofts beat Kellingley Welfare 2-0, and Ossett Albion added to Great Preston’s miserable season with an 11-1 thrashing.