West Yorkshire Premier Division side Knaresborough Town Reserves claim a strong club structure is helping them surpass expectations this season.
The Knaresborough Town first team currently top the table in the Northern Counties East Division One, a single tier above the reserves side.
Treasurer Ian Pickles said: “We are probably punching above our weight in the West Yorkshire Premier Division and have been for some time.
“The reserves team aim to finish as high as they can, but they are there to supply players to the first team and the fact that the firsts have got one or two players back from injury over the last few weeks, has meant some of the players have been able to drop down into the seconds and help out there.
“For those coming down from the senior side, the reserves are playing at a very high standard so really it’s not a huge drop for them.
“The player who scored the first goal on Saturday against Robin Hood Athletic, Sam Cook, has been in the first team this year but now has played the last couple of games with the reserves and captained the side on Saturday.
“Our under-21s are also doing well at their level in the West Riding County Under-21 Floodlit League.
“They are eighth in the Premier Division and some of those players become integral parts of the reserves and even push for first-team spots.
“Laurence Dunne came off the bench on Saturday to score the last two goals and he is part of the academy. Ben Clayton, who also get two has been part of the academy side also.
“The combination of the under-21s team, who are feeding players into the reserves and the first team who are doing the same, is helping to develop a strong structure which is benefiting everyone within the club.
The reserves moved up to seventh in the league, after their 5-0 rout of Robin Hood.
In a Saturday split between league and West Yorkshire Cup fixtures, Ilkley Town were one of the few Premier Division title contenders to be in action.
Town were able to take full advantage as they cut the gap to Leeds City to seven points after a 4-3 victory over Shelley.
The scoreline proved an unfair reflection on the game, with Ilkley, who dominated most of the affair missing several huge chances to record a more comfortable win.
Ultimately, goals from Lee Spires, Toby Harris, Adam Davey and Danny Bott wrapped up all three points for Town.
Carlton Athletic are also in the title hunt, but a shock 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table Pool put a serious dent in their aspirations.
Joseph O’Neil netted for Carlton but Thomas Fleming’s goal was enough to secure Pool’s first league point since January.
Hall Green United suffered their first back-to-back league defeats since December, going down 3-1 away at Field.
Strikes from Danny Farrar, Tom Ponter and Jack Webster secured Field’s eighth win of the season.
In the final Premier Division clash of the weekend, Headingley claimed their first league win this month, with a 3-1 triumph over Hunslet Club.
Whitkirk Wanderers saw their second Division One game in as many weeks postponed, opening the door for Rawdon Old Boys to move level on points with them at the top, after their 2-0 win over Wetherby Athletic, writes Jamie Woodhouse.
East End Park and Featherstone Colliery are now both just four points behind the leading duo after the pair picked up wins. East End ground out a narrow 1-0 victory over Rothwell, while Featherstone found the net four times thanks to an Andrew Burton double and strikes from Jordan Hale and Kyle Pearson to claim a 4-2 win away at Howden Clough.
Howden can, however, take comfort from the fact that their two closest relegation rivals also suffered heavy defeats. Leeds Modernians took a huge step in alleviating their own relegation fears after hat-tricks from Danny and James Claxton helped them to a 7-3 win over Brighouse, while Altofts were demolished 6-1 by Oxenhope Recreation.
In Division Two, Newsome are now just three points off leaders Kirk Deighton Rangers with four games in hand after thrashing Old Centralians 6-1. Kellingley Welfare are now unbeaten in their last six league games after their 5-3 win over Baildon Trinity Athletic, while Ripon City defeated Hampsthwaite United 6-2 in the final Division Two fixture.
In the West Yorkshire League Cup and with fixtures going off at all different stages of the competition, teams could be forgiven for losing track of the rounds system and simply concentrating on ensuring victory.
In an all Premier Division clash, Beeston St Anthony’s progressed after their 5-0 demolition of Sherburn White Rose, with James Allan, Matty Waller, Kingsley Wetherald and Callum Harrison making the scoresheet for Beeston.
Horbury Town also advance after their 4-0 win over Kirk Deighton Rangers, along with Huddersfield Amateur who defeated Hartshead by the same score. Leeds City completed the clean sweep for the Premier Division sides, dismissing Boroughbridge 3-1.
But there was one upset on Saturday, as Division Two high flyers Otley Town dumped Division One outfit Wyke Wanderers out of the league cup, after their 3-2 victory.