Wetherby Athletic manager Mark Forster has praised the attitude of his players after what he described as a ‘dark day’ for the football club.
His side lost 8-0 against table toppers Carlton Athletic having started the match with only 10 men, and Forster’s son Josh was then forced off with an injury after half an hour.
“I thought all the players were magnificent, the spirit that they showed was first class,” he said, “What happened was a black day for Wetherby. It might also be the first time that we failed to put a full side out, it’s shameful.”
The club confirmed that two players failed to show on the day, and that they are conducting an investigation into what occurred. Despite the confusion, Forster was keen to stress how impressed he was with the players who did show.
“I’m so proud of those lads out there who have turned out to play. It’s difficult to say anything about the game really, we ran our socks off. Players ran and ran and all of them put a shift in. I thought to be just 2-0 down against the best team in the district at half-time was a phenomenal achievement, especially as we were down to nine men! The second half we tired and Carlton took advantage of that and towards the end we struggled, but we kept on trying and I can’t praise them enough.”
Carlton manager Mark Pitts was offered a 10-0 walkover by the Wetherby management, and whilst he sympathised with their plight, the fact that the all-conquering Carlton had played only one game in a month meant the opportunity of pitch time was one his side couldn’t turn down.
“I felt sorry for them, if I’m honest,” Pitts said, “They finished fifth last year and looked a really good team. It’s the way football is going unfortunately. It’s struggling. The game itself was a bit of a shambles to be fair and I think it was the worst match I’ve ever seen at this level, it just wasn’t a competition. You could see that it was a bit demoralising for them at stages and it wasn’t much of a contest, which is understandable.”
With only Brighouse Old Boys below them and 11 points from the safety of 14th place, Wetherby look short odds for relegation from the Premier Division this term. Their fortunes couldn’t be more contrasted with those of Carlton, who continued their incredible 100 per cent record and make it 16 from 16.
“The lads talk about the fact we’ve won every game and whether we can go the season unbeaten,” Pitts said, “but the fact we’re doing so well stokes everyone else up – we’re the team to beat.”
A County Cup semi-final awaits, and Carlton also beat high-flying Field in midweek to continue their League Cup run.
Whether they can continue this hot streak is a case of attitude, says Pitts. “We probably will lose one. That’s football.
“We’re not world beaters and there’s a good chance one of the top sides will beat us if we don’t turn up on the day. The lads are up for it. They’ve got the bit between their teeth and we’ll always be hard to beat. We’re good enough, and now our challenge is to keep this going as long as we possibly can.”
Elsewhere, a last-gasp winner from substitute Joe Dixon meant that second-placed Leeds City kept the arrears to three points with a 3-2 win over Pool. Last season’s champions Beeston St Anthony’s lost 2-1 at Headingley, Field bounced back from a midweek defeat with a 2-0 win against Horbury Town, and Shelley moved into fourth with a 3-1 win at Hunslet Club.
A Lee Spires-inspired Ilkley Town moved further away from the relegation zone with the shock 7-1 thrashing of Sherburn White Rose, whilst their relegation rivals Oxenhope hammered doomed Brighouse 4-1. Robin hood Athletic beat Knaresborough Town 1-0.
In the second tier, Hall Green United continued their charge to the title with a 5-1 win against Boroughbridge, whilst second-placed Hartshead sneaked past Kippax with a 1-0 win.
Bottom side Otley Town claimed their second win of 2017 in a 3-0 win over Wyke Wanderers, Swillington Saints crashed to a 6-2 defeat courtesy of Huddersfield Amateur, and Whitkirk Wanderers beat old Centralians 3-0.
Featherstone Colliery earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Aberford Albion, whilst Howden Clough and East End Park drew 3-3.