A lack of fixtures did not mean a lack of drama in the West Yorkshire Premier League, as the relegation battle became more apparent.
A classic relegation six-pointer between Brighouse Old Boys and Oxenhope Recreation saw the away side take the spoils in a 3-1 victory. Two new signings proved to be the difference for Oxenhope, as a brace for James Gill and a goal for Michael Garnett were enough to see off Brighouse, despite Richard Heins netting for the home side.
Oxenhope manager James Bailey was quick to praise his new signings, and their impact on getting a vital three points.
“It was a massive game for us, we really needed to get a win,” said Bailey. “We’re really happy. The two new players we’ve signed were the difference.
“Hopefully they’ll move us away from the bottom and make the difference.”
The result was Oxenhope’s first league win in five, and saw the away side move four points ahead of their hosts at the end of play.
The manager praised the players team spirit, and said he felt confident that they can pull away from the relegation battle. He said: “We’ve got a lot of Under-19 lads playing. I worked with them as manager of the second team last year, and they’ve made the step up to the first team with me. They’re a really good bunch of lads.
“We’ve still got a lot of players to come back, and we’ve got games against all the teams around us at the bottom still to come. Hopefully we’ll pick up some key results and start climbing up the table.”
The result leaves Brighouse sitting second-bottom of the table, without a win since the end of September in the league, just one point ahead of bottom of the table Wetherby Athletic.
Brighouse manager Kim Farrand admitted that his side needed to address the slide.
“We’re in a relegation battle,” he conceded. “We desperately need to get some points on the board. It was a massive game today, and we didn’t take our chances – we missed too many in the first 20 minutes.”
Despite the side’s struggles, the manager remains confident that his side can turn their season around.
“We never give up,” he said. “We’ve proved that every week.
“We’re more than capable of winning the games we’ve got coming up. We’re always creating goalscoring opportunities so I’m still quietly confident – we just need to score. We were in a similar situation last season – we were in a relegation battle in February, but we put a string of results together and finished strongly.
“We’ve got a good set of lads here, it’s down to them to turn it round. I’m confident they can do it.”
Elsewhere, Ilkley Town condemned Wetherby Athletic to a third league defeat in a row, leaving the visitors rooted to the foot of the table.
Ilkley, who were thumped by league leaders Carlton Athletic the week before, were the better team all afternoon, with Jack Murray, Danny Henderson, Adam Fowler and Dan Chadwick all going close, but crucially not close enough.
Wetherby goalkeeper Michael Recchia managed to keep the Ilkley attack at bay until the 86th minute, when Fowler turned in Henderson’s right-wing cross for his second goal of the season.
The result was enough to keep Ilkley out of the bottom three despite Oxenhope’s victory – and left Wetherby rooted to the foot of the table.
The other Premier League fixture of the day saw Shelley run out 2-1 victors away at Knaresborough Town.
The result is Knaresborough’s second defeat in as many matches, and leaves them only four points from second-in-the-table outfit, Beeston St Anthony’s.
However, Sherburn White Rose, Leeds City and Field all sit above them with games in hand.
The victory sees Shelley remain undefeated in the league since their loss to league leaders Carlton at the start of October, and leaves the side sitting comfortably in ninth, just three points off the top four.
In Division One, league leaders Hall Green United continued their impressive run of form, winning 2-0 against Leeds Modernians – continuing a run of six clean-sheet victories in a row in the league since their draw with Huddersfield Amateur in October.
Second-placed Hartshead romped to a 5-0 victory away at bottom of the table Otley Town, the same scoreline as the reverse fixture,when the sides met in the league in October. The result leaves Otley without a point in the league since August.
Struggling Featherstone Colliery beat second-bottom Whitkirk Wanderers 2-0, while fellow strugglers Swillington Saints lost 6-3 away at high-flying Kippax. East End Park and Aberford Albion shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
WESTBROOK YMCA crashed to a 4-1 defeat at home to bottom of the table Hunsworth, re-enforcing their own relegation credentials, writes ELLIOT HORN.
The County Amateur Division One clash saw Hunsworth close the gap on second-bottom Westbrook to just two points, albeit having played two games more than their opponents. A Charles Taylor hat-trick and a strike from Jordan Brunt sent Hunsworth on their way, with a Marko Francomano goal for Westbrook not enough to prevent Hunsworth leaving with a vital three points.
Elsewhere in Division One, a Lee Smith hat-trick helped West Horton win 5-1 away at Churwell Lions to put them third on goal difference. Adam Stephenson scored four as Holmfirth Town eased to a 5-0 win at home to Tyersal to keep them second, and a brace from Daniel Kitson helped Britannia Sports maintain their lead at the top with a 2-0 victory away at mid-table Ventus Yeadon Celtic. Route One Rovers edged a 3-2 win away at Wibsey, Shoaib Iqbal with the deciding goal.
In the Premier Division a hat-trick from Callum Meade and a strike from Jame Buckley was enough to claim third-placed Golcar United a narrow 4-3 victory at home to Lepton Highlanders, who stay seventh. Elsewhere goals from Shooter (2), Paul Pike, Kitson Gayle, Josh Shields and Jamie Jobarteh saw top of the league Newsome stroll to a 6-0 win over eighth-placed Honley. In Division Two, a hat-trick from Ryan Whitfield, a brace from Wayne Walsh and a strike from Andy Sadowskyj ensured second-placed Salts Reserves took all the points in a 6-0 win at home to Tingley Athletic, who remain seventh. Top of the league TVR United remain unbeaten after claiming a 6-0 win at home to Dram Community Reserves, who stay bottom with four points. Finally, an unfortunate Craig Begg own goal proved to be the difference as Lower Hopton reserves scraped a 4-3 win over second bottom Tyersal Reserves, lifting Lower Hopton to sixth-place.
In the Harrogate and District Premier Division, league leaders Kirk Deighton Rangers gained a 6-0 win at home to winless Kirkby Malzeard.