Hall Green United’s recruitment machine has jolted back into action as they regained their place at the top of West Yorkshire League Division One on Saturday.
They took advantage of Hartshead’s postponement with Boroughbridge to go two points in ahead of the chasing pack with three games in hand, beating Wyke Wanderers 4-1, and manager John Moore says the club are cautiously preparing for life in the top tier.
“We’ve always been very keen on recruitment, and I’ve said that any club that can do it well has a big advantage,” he said.
“We’ve got someone who goes around the leagues looking at players for us and we’ve identified a few players that we’ll be speaking to. There are a couple of lads who are playing in the North East Counties League who have been injured and that want to get back into playing regularly that we think we’ll have a chance of getting.”
Goals from Daniel Empsall, Wayne Ball, Michael Amos and Jamie Miller did the damage for the leaders, all in what Moore described as a superb first-half performance.
“It was a really good win and in particular a very good first half,” he said.
“We’ve made a habit of starting well and none more so than how we went about it on Saturday. Going into half-time at 4-0 didn’t flatter us to be honest.”
Matt Conway struck a consolation goal for Wyke on the hour, and despite being able to extend their lead, Moore was pleased with the way his defence coped with their opposition’s second-half backlash.
“We soaked up the pressure really well. They upped their game and, to be honest, we lowered ours a little bit. It’s always hard knowing as long as you don’t concede a load you’re going to win the game but the defence were brilliant again.”
The defence in question is by far the meanest in the division, having conceded just nine goals in their 15 league games this season, a statistic Moore puts down to hard work and in particular, to the partnership of his centre-back pairing.
“We’re a very fit side and we work hard on that side of things. Wayne Ball is very experienced, he’s 33, and Sam Jackson is a very talented young lad. He’s been around some good clubs like Ossett Albion and Huddersfield Town. They’re both good players.”
Despite their handsome position, Moore is desperate for his squad to not become complacent.
“We’re looking at the next 10 games,” he said.
“If we get through those pretty strongly then it’ll be more or less done.
“We can’t afford to think we can drop points. Hartshead are a good side who have strengthened and we’re taking it game by game.
“If the defence keep on playing as they are then we’ll be okay.”
The shock of the day came further down the second-tier table as Featherstone Colliery edged further away from the bottom two with a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Amateur, who remain sixth. Adam Cameron, Kyle Pearson and Gareth Ward got the goals.
Elsewhere in the division, there were seven goals at Kippax as the hosts edged out Aberford Albion 4-3, whilst there were even more goals at basement dwelling Otley Town as they lost 6-2 to Whitkirk Wanderers.
Swillington Saints were unlucky not to pick up only their second point since October as they lost out in a nip and tuck encounter against Leeds Modernians.
Ben Turner scored both goals for Mods in their 2-1 win. Howden Clough and East End Park were postponed.
In the top flight, Ilkley Town put distance between themselves and the relegation dogfight as they beat Oxenhope Recreation 2-1 thanks to Adams Davey and Fowler.
The relegation picture was made clearer still as bottom side Wetherby Athletic fell well short at home to Field, losing 4-1, whilst their partners in the relegation zone, Brighouse Old Boys, were postponed at home to Beeston St Anthony’s. Further up the table, Pool and Leeds City were also postponed.
Horbury Town moved into ninth and leapfrogged their opponents with a 3-1 win over Shelley, whilst Hunslet edged out Robin Hood Athletic 2-1.
In Division Two, AFC Horsforth took themselves ahead of Rothwell with a resounding 9-1 win against winless Great Preston, Kellingley Welfare beat Baildon Trinity Athletic 3-0, whilst Garforth Rangers put two unanswered strikes past Middleton Park.
The weather got the better of the game between third placed Rothwell and leaders Rawdon Old Boys and they were postponed.