Ilkley Town are pleased with their progress following arguably the most difficult run of games in the club’s history as a Premier Division side.
After facing all of the other top seven sides in their last seven games, Ilkley sit 4th in the table with 22 points after their 2-0 win at Horbury Town at the weekend.
Manager Simon Armstrong said: “It’s the first time we have experienced something like this, but what it demonstrates is how competitive the league is now with six or seven teams all going for the title, where previously it has been three of four.
“But if you want to break into the top places in the Premier Division, you have to be ready for this kind of challenge.
“No two games have been the same, but I think we have played well in different ways in each game.
“It’s a case of learning from these experiences. We play very differently on the 3G at Ilkley compared to how we play at Horbury or Beeston, for example.
“You have to develop your strategy of when you can play and how, the next step then being consistent in terms of how you prepare and perform so we can compete with the top teams.”
Ilkley’s only fixture against a side outside of the title chasing pack came at home to Wyke and ended in a 4-2 defeat, serving as an example for Armstrong of what happens when you don’t bring you’re a-game.
“We look forward to playing every week because we want to play our way, and what the Wyke defeat taught us very harshly is that in this league you do get punished” he said.
“We paid a heavy price for not turning up and credit to Wyke, they took the three points.
“All that demonstrates is that there’s not a big difference between the top and bottom of the league, and what matters is how you play on the day and if you are consistent.”
With Ilkley and Horbury the only Premier Division sides in league action, all eyes turned to Division One.
With Boroughbridge in cup action, Hall Green United returned to the top after their 4-3 win at East End Park.
Liam Clark scored twice for East End with Danny Maw also on target, but Sean Jesson’s 66th-minute strike and three goals in seven minutes through Tom Fowler’s double and Zaid Amaan secured the 4-3 victory.
Hartshead are now six points off the top of Division One after they suffered a heavy 4-1 home defeat to Otley Town, while Howden Clough’s struggles continued after their 3-0 loss to Pool.
Clough have now slipped to the bottom of the table after Wetherby Athletic produced three second-half goals to defeat Featherstone Colliery 4-1.
Campion Reserves are now only one point off the Division Two summit following their 4-1 win at Hunsworth.
Swillington Saints also closed their gap to the leaders to four points with a 5-2 triumph at Tingley Athletic.
Knaresborough Celtic remain bottom after their 3-1 defeat at Kellingley Welfare, while Ripon City rose to 6th with their 4-3 win at Altofts.
County Cup action takes centre stage this coming weekend with seventh-placed Horbury Town welcoming 12th-positioned Sherburn White Rose in the only game in the Premier Division.
There are three games in Division One with leaders Hall Green United at 11th-placed Kippa and the bottom two meeting as Wetherby Athletic welcome Howden Clough.
Fifth-placed Newsome entertain Rothwell.
Beeston St Anthony’s began their defence of the West Yorkshire League Cup with a 4-1 victory at Division Two outfit Glasshoughton Rock, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
That was Glasshoughton’s first defeat in any competition since the opening game of the season.
Leeds City who were defeated by Beeston in last season’s final also made a statement of intent putting seven past fellow Premier Division side Sherburn White Rose in a 7-0 win. Red cards for Sherburn duo James Dyson and Jordan Richards did little to help matters.
Carlton Athletic ensured all the Premier Division’s top three progressed to the next round, but they didn’t have it quite as easy on their trip to Kippax.
With the game level at 1-1 come full-time it was Carlton who held their nerve to win 4-3 on penalties against their Division One opponents.
Whitkirk Wanderers were able to defeat their Division One opposition in more comfortable fashion, running out 6-0 winners at home to Oxenhope Recreation. The roles were reversed in Rawdon Old Boys’ tie with Aberford Albion, as Division One Aberford knocked out Premier Division Rawdon, winning 7-6 on penalties after the game was drawn 3-3.
Kirk Deighton Rangers of Division One also drew 3-3 with Robin Hood Athletic, but this time the Premier side picked up the 5-3 penalties win. The theme continued as Hunslet drew 3-3 with Wyke Wanderers before Wyke triumphed 6-5 on penalties.
In other highlights, Headingley and Salts also required penalties to separate them after a 1-1 draw, but a comfortable 4-1 margin saw Headingley progress. Huddersfield Amateur withstood a brave challenge from their lower ranked opponents Newsome to continue in the tournament with a 2-1 win, while Knaresborough Town Reserves picked up a 2-1 win over Field.
The Division Two sides also got in on the cup upsets starting with Huddersfield YM who ran out 3-0 winners over Leeds Modernians through Adrian Igeilski’s brace and Luke Kash’s strike. Shelley Reserves were also at it, picking up a huge scalp as they knocked out Boroughbridge who had led the way in Division One heading into the weekend. Ricardo Ianzito and Daniel Simpson continued their impressive scoring run with Alex Thomas also on hand to secure the 3-2 victory.
It was an all Division Two clash to finish the weekend’s West Yorkshire League Cup ties featuring Old Centralians and Baildon Trinity Athletic, and it was Old Centralians who recorded a 4-1 victory in a rather one-sided affair.