FARSLEY Celtic Juniors have their destiny in their own hands after a 3-2 defeat of closest challengers Stanley United took them within touching distance of retaining their Premier Division title.
Joe Firth, a reliable source of goals from midfield this term, settled the game with an outstanding individual effort late on after the top two cancelled each other out in the first half.
The victory at Bradford Academy means, with three games to play, that Barry Thirsk’s side have a seven-point lead on Stanley, but the league newcomers have a game in hand.
Since gaining promotion from the Championship in 2014, Farsley’s form at Lister Street has formed their backbone; they are unbeaten on home soil this season and have lost just twice in 27 games since joining the top flight three years ago.
On Saturday, conditions suited them once again with Andrew Eaton’s visitors struggling at times to adapt to the dimensions of the pitch, lacking the width of their home surface.
After United passed up a couple of early chances, league top scorer Danny Lyons turned home a Louis Surtees cross in the box to hand the holders the lead.
Striker Josh Whiteley struck back for Stanley, firing home from the top of the box, but the persistence of Said Osman was soon rewarded as he chased down a seemingly lost cause and slid the ball past the visiting keeper.
Ben Huntingdon had levelled terms by half-time, however, and for much of the second half Stanley’s centre-halves did a good job of blunting the hosts and their threatening front line.
In the closing stages Firth, a midfielder for the league’s representative side, picked the ball up 40 yards out, beat two men and found the composure to finish in style to seal a crucial win.
Thirsk and his men have the chance to repeat the league and cup double they achieved last year when they play Leeds Medics in the final of the Marflitt Trophy this weekend.
Celtic will be confident of wrapping up the title with games against already-relegated Trinity and faltering Alwoodley to come.
A fatigued Alwoodley side, missing the services of Callum Armstrong, fell to a convincing 2-1 defeat to Grangefield Old Boys at the Avenue.
Although they opened the scoring when Dan Whincup tapped home a rebound in the 15th minute, after parrying into the path of the player Grangefield’s keeper had almost nothing more to do.
Substitute Matty Tomlinson centred for Grant Jackson who volleyed home from 15 yards and roles were reversed in the 57th minute as Jackson set up Tomlinson to take the lead.
Elsewhere, a brace from Aaron Ashworth, alongside strikes from Ory Goldthorpe, Chris Parker and Colin Schofield gave Ealandians a 5-0 win over St Nicholas at Oakwood Lane.
Drighlington will be playing Premier Division football next season.
And they are highly unlikely to be caught at the top of the Championship, with one more win enough to make sure of top spot.
Bob Greenwood’s outfit made it to the final of the Wheatley Cup last Thursday, beating West Yorkshire League high-flyers Hartshead 9-8 on penalties after it finished 2-2 after normal time.
Morley Town lost to Drig 3-0 at the weekend but their two games in hand on second-placed Leeds Medics Reserves – ineligible for promotion – give them a good chance of overhauling the two point gap. Morley just about had the majority of possession at Glen Road but the opener came from the away side in the 70th minute when Brett Thompson, to be followed by goals from Sam Thorpe on 77 minutes and Shane Sowden five minutes from time.
The Medics beat Thornesians 1-0 thanks to the only goal of the game from Eliano Magalhaes.
In Division One, fifth-placed Huddersfield YMCA inflicted a very rare defeat on outright leaders Gildersome Spurs, beating them 2-1 with strikes from Jordan Jaber and Adrian Igielski.
With only a few games remaining in Division Two, the equation is simple for Leeds City Old Boys who need a point from their last match against Sandal Wanderers to gain promotion.
Manager Rob Long is now calling for ‘one last push’ after they beat Old Centralians 4-0 on Saturday.
It was a close shave but Wheelwright Old Boys have averted resignation from Division Two and gave a decent account of themselves in losing 3-1 to table-toppers Idle.
Division Three side Fairbank United sealed promotion with a 6-0 defeat of Churwell Lions, joining already-anointed champions East Ardsley Wanderers.
The Division Four tussle ended in Horsforth St Margaret’s Reserves narrowly clinching second spot on goal difference, joining Rodillian in the league above.
Wortley and Woodhouse Moor Methodists suffered relegation.
Garforth Crusaders and Leeds City OB III stormed to promotion from the bottom tier.