Leeds City continued their impressive run of form by beating Shelley 2-1 at the weekend to move within striking distance of second-placed Barsdsey in the West Yorkshire Premier Division.
Daniel Simpson had given the hosts an early lead, but Leeds struck back with goals from Adam Dutson and Barrie Frankland to lead 2-1 at half-time.
They then went on to dominate the second period without scoring, with Joe Dixon missing his first penalty in three years.
Leeds manager Tom Liddell was disappointed by his team’s performance, despite seeing them pick up a fourth league win in a row against a Shelley side who have been hit-and-miss this season, winning six and losing seven of their opening 14 fixtures.
“The game was a bit of a let-down to be honest, especially at Shelley as they’ve got the best pitch in the league,” said Liddell.
“We’re renowned for playing great football... but we didn’t really make best use of it.
“We didn’t take our chances at all... it could have been six or seven.”
Liddell did have special praise for referee Johnathon Bickerdike and his young linesman and woman as they had to cope with a difficult pitch and demanding Shelley supporters.
“The officials were fantastic,” Liddell asserted.
“They controlled the game really well; they got quite a lot of abuse from the home fans and they dealt with it really well.
“I said to them ‘you don’t deserve that at all, I thought you were really, really good’.”
Despite his team’s recent good form, Liddell was reticent to compliment his team’s campaign – although he refused to rule out a tilt at the title, citing the fact that his team are yet to play leaders Field, who are currently on imposing form at the top of the table.
“It’s been a strange season,” Leeds’ long-standing manager explained.
“We dropped a lot of points early on to draws, but they were deservedly dropped.
“We’re in all the competitions still, so it’s not been a bad season, but I think we may have dropped a few too many points early on to really challenge for the title.
“But I’d never rule it out.
“We’ve got Beeston this weekend which I’m really excited about. We always have good games with them, so that’ll be a nice one to see us into Christmas.”
Field’s seemingly relentless march towards the title continued as they overcame a competitive Horbury Town side in a tight 3-2 victory.
Horbury held home advantage and took the lead on the brink of half-time through Tristan Cost. But Field struck back in the second 45 with goals from Curtis McMahon, Christopher Wood and Andrew Harker to move an impressive 13 points clear of second-placed Bardsey, although Leeds City and Beeston St. Anthony’s – currently third and fourth respectively – could move closer if they take advantage of their games in hand.
In the remaining Premier Division fixture of the week, Otley Town had an explosive second half in a 6-1 thrashing of Brighouse Old Boys, which had been tied at 1-1 at half-time.
Struggling Brighouse’s Richard Heins had ensured his side reached half-time level with Otley, but the hosts struck back in style in the second half, running out comfortable winners thanks to a double from Danny Forrest, plus goals from Scott Cater, Daniel Chadwick, James Evison and Scott Firth.
In Division One, Old Modernians and Swillington Saints competed in the only scheduled fixture of the week, but seemed eager to provide a division’s worth of goals between them.
It was Swillington Saints who came out on top in a topsy-turvy encounter to secure their first victory of the campaign, beating their hosts 5-3. Danny Claxton, Paul Hurrell and Ben Turner all scored for the home side, but Swillington – who had previously drawn seven games – had Jamie Scott, Dylan Mattison and Daniel Jackson to thank as they moved up into 13th in the table.
Table-toppers Hartshead took full advantage of the fact that their rivals did not play in Division Two, establishing a three-point lead by putting 10 goals past hapless Middleton Park.
Liam Gowan and Benjamin Smith took advantage of the leaky Middleton defence to net a hat-trick apiece, while Owan Asquith scored two, and Jamie Newby and Matthew Watson also contributed strikes.
Middleton’s Darlington Sango and Manuel Garcia did score consolation goals for the home side as their goal difference took a serious battering.
However, it was not all bad news for Middleton, as bottom-placed Fryston failed to take advantage, losing narrowly against mid-table Barwick, despite Liam Cooper scoring for the hosts.
Normanton Woodhouse Hill and Yorkshire Amateur played out a 1-1 draw with Lewis Longthorn netting for Yorkshire.
Leeds City Reserves ensured a strong week all round for the local side by beating Headingley AFC Reserves 3-0 in the Alliance Division One.
Ashley Walker, Jonathon Wilson and Daniel Berry got the goals for Leeds, who move up to fifth.
Headingley are ninth, despite playing 15 games so far, more than any of their rival teams.