West Yorkshire Premier Division side Hunslet Club are determined to turn potential into results after the winter break.
The Leeds-based outfit currently sit fifth in the table after four wins in their last five league games have seen them shoot up the standings following a shaky start to the campaign.
Joint first-team manager Adam Hartley believes the improvement in form has been a long time in coming, after several harsh results. He said: “We have been playing some good football this season but just not getting the results we want.
“The performances have been particularly impressive but now we have picked up a few good wins we are not far off fourth place, and have games in hand.
“We are hoping the second half of the season will be far better. We have a big squad so, for that reason, our aim is definitely a top-five finish!”
However, with such a good run of results in the bag confidence is growing. The question is, could Hunslet potentially challenge for the title?
“No, we won’t win the league. I think that will be down to the usual culprits, like Beeston, Leeds City and Carlton who are always up there come the end of the season.
“As a club, we believe it will end up being one of those three who take the title.”
Hartley believes their recent turnaround is down to the strength of the squad, which is growing on a weekly basis.
“We have recently had a few players return to the club, such as David Pickering who has joined from Carlton.
“On top of this we have also brought a few new faces in, like Callum Harrison who came from Glasshoughton Welfare.
“There are a couple of young players breaking into the team now. One of them is Jack Atkinson, who we thought would be a second-team player, but ever since pre-season his form has earned him a place in the first team. He is definitely one of our brighter prospects and, in the future, he will probably be playing at a higher level. He has a lot of potential!
“To be fair, everyone in the squad is a part of our plans; it’s a team game and we like to think they all play a role in what we achieve.”
Elsewhere, a raft of cup fixtures meant a heavily watered down Premier Division schedule. Hartshead ground out a vital 1-0 victory over title contenders Shelley through Ashley Burton’s fourth goal of the season. Difficult playing conditions may have contributed to the upset victory, but there will be no complaints from Hartshead, who move to up to 11th, after back-to-back league wins. Shelley remain fourth, putting these sides at head and tail of a packed mid-table, with only three points separating fourth and 11th.
Two clubs jammed within this group are Knaresborough Town and Field, who went head-to-head last weekend. Knaresborough claimed all three points at Manse Lane, with a brace from Colin Heath and a Harry Croft strike giving them the 3-1 win.
Tom Ponter’s goal had given Field hope of a result, but his eventual sending off would kill all belief for the visitors. In the final Premier Division clash of the weekend, Robin Hood Athletic ran out 3-2 winners over fellow relegation candidates Pool. Goals from Daniel Bridges, James Finlayson and Lewis Richardson wrapped up the much-needed three points, after no wins in their previous five league games had seen them fall sharply down the table. Pool had hoped their 2-0 win over Hunslet Club three weeks ago, would signal the start of a much-needed turnaround in league form.
But the Robin Hood Athletic defeat now leaves them second from bottom in the Premier Division.
Wetherby Athletic are in seventh heaven after demolishing Altofts last weekend, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
The Tangerines hammered their eleventh-placed rivals 7-1 to register one of the biggest wins of the Division One season through goals for Josh Wilson, Dom Creamer, Paul Hustwit, Freddie Jackson, Tom Frost and a double for Anthony Walsh.
The away side were 3-0 after just 15 minutes in a start motivated by a disappointing late capitulation at the hands of Kippax last time out.
“The task was very simple,” manager Martin Powell told their club website, “don’t perform as you had done against Kippax. Play with a high tempo and take the chances that we know we can create. Thankfully the players all responded in the manner I knew they would. They all showed excellent levels of fitness against a very hard-working Altofts side. We never let them settle on the ball and were sharp in the tackle all over the pitch.
“The lads were honest in their assessment of where they had gone wrong the previous week and they all stepped up to the mark. We need to play with this level of commitment every week and just keep plugging away.
“This is a very tough division and the adage ‘there is never an easy game’ is very true.”
Elsewhere in the division, highflying Wyke Wanderers were shocked by East End Park, who ran out 3-1 winners, while Kippax continued their run of form with a 6-2 win over relegation battlers Howden Clough.
There were two matches played in the bottom tier, where Kirk Deighton beat Old Centralians 3-2 with goals for Jake Young, Joe Turley and substitute James Ripley. Ripon City took all three points from their match with Kellingley Welfare, who were soundly beaten 4-1.
ALWOODLEY claimed one of the results of the third round of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup when they defeated Horbury Town 5-4 on penalties after the match had finished 1-1.
Horbury went a goal ahead after half-time but Callum Armstrong set up an equaliser for James Wilmuth.
In the resultant penalty shootout, Alwoodley scored all their penalties but Horbury missed the target with one of theirs which sent Alwoodley into the next round to face Aberford Albion, who saw off Beeston St Anthony’s 3-1.
Elsewhere, Carlton Athletic enjoyed a 4-0 victory at Oxenhope Recreation.
They will be joined in the next round by Thorne Colliery, who beat Leeds Modernians 5-4 on penalties after the game finished 2-2 after normal time, Campion Reserves, who edged out Swillington Saints Welfare 10-9 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, and Leeds Medics and Dentists, who triumphed 3-1 on penalties after a 2-2 draw at Springhead.
Huddersfield Amateur booked their place in the next round following a 4-2 victory at Headingley AFC while Ilkley Town Juniors also triumphed by the same score at home to Featherstone Colliery.
Elsewhere in the third round Leeds City enjoyed a 3-2 victory at Church Fenton, Salts won 1-0 at Sherburn White Rose, Steeton defeated Boroughbridge 2-1,and Uppermill claimed a 3-2 victory at Thornton United.
There were goals galore in the third round of the West Riding County FA Challenge Trophy.
Beeston St Anthony’s Reserevs won 8-0 at Tyersal, Ilkley Town Juniors Reserves won 6-0 against Sandal Wanderers, Shelf Juniors beat Sporting Keighley 9-2, Otley Town crushed Manningham Allstars 8-1, Robin Hoofd Athletic Reserves defeated Salts 3rds 7-2, Ovenden West Riding got the better of Pontefract S&S 6-2, Leeds City OB cruised past Garforth Rangers 4-1 and Beeston St Anthony’s beat Huddersfield YM 4-2
Also through to the fourth round are: Salts Reserves, Armley cc, Shire Academics, Hellifield Sports, Baildon Trinity Athletic, Rock Inn, Crackenedge, Ealandians Reservesand FC Ovenden.
n Pictures: pages 2-3.