LEEDS City are disappointed but not disheartened with the fade in their title challenge which is now over in the eyes of boss Tom Liddell.
The Adel-based side recovered ground with a stunning 9-2 win over Salts at the weekend as top scorer Adam Fowler claimed four goals to put themselves four points behind Carlton Athletic at the top.
However, Carlton, who are going for three straight Premier League titles, have a game in-hand and that, alongside their four-point margin over City, is enough for Liddell to call off their hopes.
“We’re not going to win the league, so we just have to maintain form and show that we are ready to compete,” said Liddell.
“The last couple of years have been a transitional period of signing new players.
“Back in 2015 we had a core squad but, of course, players age and we have a lot of youngsters in now.
“So it’s just a case of getting up at the top to fight over the coming years.
“That wasn’t necessarily meant to be this year, though we did hope to challenge for the title. That faded sadly when we lost to Hunslet.
“Carlton or Beeston will win the league, but we’re not looking behind at Ilkley Town or anyone else.
“There is no prestige for finishing second or third. I’ve done this job since 2006 and I think we’ve finished second 11 times.
“We don’t finish outside the top three, we know that won’t happen and we knew it at the beginning of the season. It’s just such a challenge trying to catch Carlton; they have a small squad but it’s a quality side.
“And Beeston as well, they’ve gone through the generations of different players but still, they’re always there. You have to give them credit for that.
“Those teams have more silverware than us, we’ve won three trophies and have made plenty of finals, but we play football differently to those guys, we are sustainable more than anything.
“The success will come eventually, it’s just a matter of everything clicking at the right time, and now wasn’t that time.”
City like to play an entertaining brand of football, and while Liddell accepts it is probably out of place at this level, the club will not change their approach.
“We like to attack teams and play good football. We enjoy that reputation and are proud to still have it,” Liddell stated.
Leeds will face Carlton at the weekend and will square off with Beeston again in the closing stages of the season.
And despite the form both sides are in, Liddell says Leeds never go into a game with a defeated mentality.
“We’re really looking forward to the game against Carlton on Saturday, and we still have Beeston to play, still in the cups, so there is plenty to play for,” he insisted.
“Never have we gone into a game thinking we won’t win, so we will take that attitude. The league is out of our hands, and you can call Carlton relentless, but just look at their form. They’ve lost just five league games in the last two seasons, it’s just incredible.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Whitkirk Wanderers ended their two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Headingley.
Horbury Town scored late in either half through Lamin and Gibril Bojang to see off bottom side Wyke Wanderers, while Knaresborough Town Reserves drew 1-1 with Field.
HALL Green United secured immediate promotion back to the Premier Division with their 2-1 win over Hartshead, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
Thomas Booth and Daniel Critchlow were both on target for the victors.
Another win will secure promotion for Boroughbridge after their 4-2 victory at Kirk Deighton Rangers. Philip Milsom netted twice for the visitors, while Dominic Creamer and John Rimmer also found the net in a precious win.
Aberford Albion were also on form as they defeated Kippax 2-1, but it was a slip-up for Newsome who went down 2-1 at Leeds Modernians – a crucial victory in their relegation scrap.
There is little to play for now below the top five other than pride for those midfield teams, and the weekend matched many of those sides with relegation-threatened counterparts. East End Park moved into sixth after a 3-1 win over Pool.
Oxenhope Recreation’s two-game winning streak was ended by Featherstone Colliery – 2-1 that finished as Colliery look to escape the drop.
Rothwell remain second from bottom after their 2-1 loss at Wetherby Athletic, while Howden Clough’s relegation was confirmed by a 4-3 defeat at Otley Town.
Glasshoughton Rock extended their lead at the top of Division Two with a 4-0 win at Baildon Trinity Athletic.
Jamie Simpson bagged a brace, while James Earley and substitute Kevin Causier completed the scoring. But Campion’s games in hand stretched to five over Rock.
Huddersfield YM kept their title hopes alive with a 2-1 win at Ripon City, as did Shelley Reserves who defeated Old Centralians 3-0.
Hunsworth picked up a 3-1 win at Tingley Athletic, while Brighouse Old Boys made it back-to-back wins after running out 1-0 victors against Kellingley Welfare.
LOWER Hopton held off an almost-stunning comeback from Steeton Reserves as they emerged victorious with a 5-4 win in the West Riding County Amateur League, writes THOMAS RITCHIE.
Lower Hopton led 4-1 at the break before Steeton came roaring back in the second half only to fall agonisingly short of snatching a point. Liam Royal was the star of the show for Lower Hopton as he struck a superb hat-trick, whilst Arron Kennedy and James Heeley were also on target for the hosts.
Greg Hudson, Arron Davis, Ryan Newall and Josh Debenham all found the back of the net for Steeton Reserves who have lost back-to-back games and stay seventh with a top-half finish now looking unlikely.
Meanwhile, Lower Hopton have now won two consecutive games and lie fifth in the division.
Route One Rovers have now lost just one of their last five games after they defeated Toller 3-1. The visitors were 2-0 up at the break, before going on to consolidate their advantage and secure the three points.
Geoffrey Mpankuli, Jonathon Mwembie and Awais Khan were all on the scoresheet for Rovers, with Umar Zahoor’s effort proving to be nothing more than a consolation for Toller.
It is now five straight defeats for Toller who remain ninth, with just 17 points from their 21 games, whilst Rovers have moved into the top half of the division with 33 points from 18 games.
Elsewhere, Littletown and Lepton Highlanders, and PFC and Golcar United saw their games postponed, as Lepton and PFC were both unable to raise a side.
Looking ahead to next weekend’s fixtures, leaders Golcar United are without a game, but Golcar will secure the title should Littletown fail to defeat Lepton Highlanders.
Route One Rovers are scheduled to travel to PFC, and TVR United host Ryburn United.
RECENTLY crowned Wakefield League Premier Division champions Crackenedge continued to close in on a perfect season with a 6-1 victory at home to fifth-placed Overthorpe Sports Club, writes BEN WOODCOCK.
James Blane, Timothy Clarke, Scott Lightowler, Adam Williams and Dominic Simpson were all among the scorers for Crackenedge who made it a faultless 13 wins out of 13, with three games left.
The success kept Crackenedge eight points clear of second-placed Crofton Sports who finished their season with a 2-1 win at fourth-placed Royston Cross for whom a solitary Cameron Cass strike proved in vain.
Meanwhile, lowly Ryhill moved off the bottom of the table, as they defeated Durkar 2-0.
Both sides now have a game remaining this season.
In Division One, FC Thornes found themselves on the right side of a seven-goal thriller as they sneaked past Thorn Tree United 4-3.
Elsewhere, with four games left to play, Fieldhead Hospital look to be finishing the season strongly, beating struggling West End Terriers 5-1.
Also, a first-half brace for Joshua Jones saw Ossett Dynamos overcome Pontefract Sports and Social, despite Adam Bartram’s second-half strike.
Elsewhere, in the League Cup, Waterloo beat bottom side AFC Sheaf 3-1, but needed extra time to do so.
Meanwhile, extra time was also needed to separate first and second in the League Cup.
It was Nostell Miners Welfare who beat Red Lion Alverthorpe by a 2-1 scoreline.
Focus will shift back to league action next week; with one game to play, Nostell sit just a point ahead of Alverthorpe.
In Division Two, Dewsbury Westside finished their campaign off in style with a 6-2 drubbing of Overthorpe Sports Club Reserves. Zubair Hussain was on the scoresheet for the second game running and helped himself to a brace.
Finally, goals from Howden Clough trio Joe Bedford, Dom Carr and Reece Scholes were enough to see off Great Preston 3-2 after extra time.
Howden Clough have already clinched the title, much to the goalscoring exploits of Warren Carr, now they look to be set for the double by securing the League Cup.