Aberford Albion have seen all the pieces of their puzzle fall into place this season, and are now firing on all cylinders.
After winning 12 of their opening 14 games, Albion are top of Division One and are the only undefeated side in any of the West Yorkshire divisions.
They showed no sign of letting up at the weekend, after a 6-2 thrashing of Rothwell put them four points clear of second-placed Hall Green United with a game in hand.
“We’re absolutely delighted,” said manager Simon Portrey.
“It’s been a long time coming to get the winning mentality but after three seasons, several retirements and reshuffles of the team, it’s exactly what I want.
“Even though everybody at the club has been wanting this, it’s exactly how I expected it to happen. It’s been a lot of hard work, but everybody is on the same wavelength at last.
“What I’ve tried to get into our lads is more of an edge so that we’re not easily walked over. We make sure that everybody rolls up their sleeves and fights for what we want more than any side we come up against.
“Now that they’ve taken that on board, they’re doing it and reaping the rewards.
“The best thing about it is there are six or seven lads having a go with the second team every week, which is obviously going to help them.
“Everybody is pulling in the same direction which is the biggest battle at this level.
“We’ve seen an improvement every season in the team, but knew it just wasn’t right.
“If we had’ve gone up last season or the season before, we would have most likely bounced back down, it was too soon.”
Portrey was full of praise for his assistant, citing his knowledge and unmatched experience of the club as a guiding light this season.
“A lot of credit needs to go to my assistant Kevin Hayton whose been at the club for years”, he said.
“He’s seen the club move from the other side of the motorway to where it is now, he’s the one pushing for us to put an extension on the ground and the person who talks to the council for all different purposes.
“He’s the one who keeps things in place at the club, he’s an absolute diamond. I’m backed by him all the way. I wouldn’t put it past the people who support me to take the club higher than the West Yorkshire League.”
Portrey is keen, however, to control expectations and keep all eyes on what the club set out to achieve.
“I still have only one target,” he said.
“People around me may say they want to win Division One and win the cups, but I solely want promotion for this club – that’s what I guaranteed them when I first came.
“I didn’t expect it to take us this long, but now I can see why it has because of all the strong sides, and I would take promotion now without anything else, no cups, if I knew we can kick on from there.”
Hall Green United kept up the chase with a 3-1 victory over bottom side Wetherby Athletic.
Sean Jesson, Tom Fowler and James Cusworth were all on target to keep the gap to Aberford at four points. Kirk Deighton Rangers’ 2-1 loss to East End Park left them 11 points off the top.
Howden Clough suffered a 2-1 defeat to Kippax, leaving them tied on 11 points with Featherstone Colliery and Wetherby for bottom of the table.
Cup duties took over for most of the Premier Division sides, but a few names still had league business to handle, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
Hunslet Club and Salts were two of those sides but their encounter was postponed.
There were no such issues at Headingley as they hosted Horbury Town in a 3-3 draw. Gibril Bojang netted a brace for Horbury, with Jak Kelly also making the score sheet.
Their efforts were, however, cancelled out by Headingley’s Ashley Austin, Ed Calvert and Merlyn Andrews who ensured the points were shared.
Rawdon Old Boys recorded their first league win since October with a 2-1 victory over Sherburn White Rose.
Craig Nicholls and Oliver Nightingale were both on target for Rawdon with Daniel Middleton providing the sole Sherburn response.
Campion Reserves continued their relentless form as Division Two pacesetters with a 5-2 win over home side Baildon Trinity Athletic.
Kenneth Tafireyi netted twice, while Kyle Bingham, Mason Butterfield and Jordan Hagyard were also on target for Campion. Glasshoughton Rock sit third and Glasshoughton would have been licking their lips as they were set to face bottom-and-winless-since-August Brighouse Old Boys.
Sadly the game was postponed, a cancellation which saw Campion stretch their advantage over Glasshoughton to five points.
Shelley Reserves met the same fate as they postponed their clash with Knaresborough Celtic.
Hunsworth were able to get their game under way, but were left regretting it after a 6-1 loss to Old Centralians.
Jamie Halsall and Aaron Rothery bagged braces for the visitors whose Jack Calvert and Brendan Mullen also struck.
The tie of the weekend came at Ripon City as they played out a 6-6 draw with Altofts.
WEST YORKSHIRE League leaders Carlton Athletic eased into the quarter-finals of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup with a 6-0 cruise at Boroughbridge, writes LEE SOBOT.
Liam Moore and Charlie Thompson both bagged braces for Carlton whose Scott Burns and Anees Younis added a goal each.
Leeds City also breezed into the last eight with a 3-0 win at home to Settle United with Adam Fowler and Barry Frankland among the scorers but Ilkley Town were chinned 8-7 on penalties by visiting Field after a 3-3 draw.
A Toby Harris double and Dave Hancock strike ultimately proved in vain for Ilkley with Lewis Forsythe, Tom Ponter and Christiansan Robinson all netting for Field.
Whitkirk Wanderers were also knocked out through a 2-1 loss at home to Grassington United despite an early strike from Ashley Bell.
Yorkshire Amateur League big guns Leeds Medics & Dentists saw their adventure ended with a 2-1 reverse at home to the West Yorkshire League’s Huddersfield Amateur. Jacob Driver fired Amateur into a 15th-minute lead and while Manny Ntim set up Colm Hicks for a 65th-minute equaliser, Joe Bedford bagged the winner five minutes later.
Several West Yorkshire League Division One sides progressed with Featherstone Colliery obliging 2-1 at home to Route One Rovers. Goals from Joe Colley and Leon Leake eclipsed the Route One effort from Shoaib Iqbal.
Hartshead also recorded a 3-2 verdict at Springhead while Otley Town also blitzed visiting Wibsey 7-1 in a game in which both managers were sent off.
But West Yorkshire Division Two outfit Swillington Saints suffered a 2-0 reverse at home to Stanley United who are the sole Yorkshire Amateur League side left thanks to goals from Dean Powell and Rhys Bruce.
County Amateur League leaders Golcar United marched on with a 2-0 success at Heywood Irish Centre as Buddy Cox bagged a brace. But Lower Hopton were dumped out after a 3-0 loss on penalties at Church Fenton following a 3-3 draw. Normal time strikes from Declan James, Matthew Shaw and Jacob Doughty were not enough for Lower Hopton.
The remaining fixtures take place this coming weekend.