West Yorkshire League: Top flight gears up for three-horse title tussle

Hunsworth's Jed Wrigley clears off the line from Aaron Lee's header at Swillington Saints. PIC: Steve Riding
Hunsworth's Jed Wrigley clears off the line from Aaron Lee's header at Swillington Saints. PIC: Steve Riding
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The Premier Division title race continues to hurtle towards its conclusion, but still it’s anybody’s guess who will lift the trophy when all is said and done.

Carlton Athletic and Beeston St Anthony’s have 50 points apiece, with Carlton leading the way on goal difference, while Leeds City sit just three points behind them.

Tom Vertigans, left, of Hunsworth and Swillington Saints' Jack Witcher tangle. PIC: Steve Riding

Tom Vertigans, left, of Hunsworth and Swillington Saints' Jack Witcher tangle. PIC: Steve Riding

Carlton manager Mark Pitts is confident his team can see the job through and claim a third-straight league crown but he knows his side’s rivals are going nowhere.

“It’s plain to see as it is at the moment that the title race is going down to the wire,” he said.

“We have two games in hand but they’re not points on the board.

“We have 11 games left to play so, if we get all the results we want, then we would win the league by six points.

Shawne Cornish shoots for Swillington Saints - against the Hunsworth upright. PIC: Steve Riding

Shawne Cornish shoots for Swillington Saints - against the Hunsworth upright. PIC: Steve Riding

“But it’s not that simple, you have to go out and win them.

“There are more twists and turns to come yet. Realistically, both us and Beeston will drop points; there are tough games to come.

“We’re trying to keep a consistent side. You have issues with injuries, players leaving and holidays, but we try and keep our squad together

“And you can’t forget about Leeds City, they are very much in the mix.

“I’ve only been in this league with Carlton, so I don’t know too much about Leeds’ history, but I know they haven’t won this league before.

“It’s all about consistency and a bit of luck. I know the manager has a good set of lads over there who form a good team.

“They’ve had a couple of slips this season, just like us and Beeston, but for them, the consistency must be there for them to make up the ground.

“I thought City’s game at the weekend against Whitkirk Wanderers could trip them up but they went there and beat them 2-1.

“It only takes a couple of wobbles and the door is open for someone. Just like last season, it will go all the way again.”

Carlton and Beeston met on January 19 in a game which ended in a draw and one which Pitts believes proved how tight things are at the top.

“It was a tough game against Beeston. We hadn’t been playing very well in the run-up to it, and it was a very physical contest,” he explained.

“It wasn’t a pretty game of football. It was one of those tight games, with neither team giving the other any sort of leeway.

“Beeston took the lead with a penalty before we levelled it.

We had a goal disallowed for offside before we went 2-1 up, then Beeston pulled it back to get a draw.

“Our number nine was brought down in the box with a few minutes to go.

“Everyone in the ground thought it was a penalty but it wasn’t to be.

“Both us and Beeston I thought got some very harsh decisions.

“It was a game that could have gone either way, so a draw was probably the fair result.”

Pitts was quick to add, however: “That game didn’t really change much for us though because it still gives us two games in hand and a potential six-point advantage.”

Carlton remain in every one of their cup competitions as well, and Pitts is out for all the silverware.

“If you’re in them, you’re in them to win them – certainly that’s my point of view,” he said.

“When you add them all to the league, there is a lot of football still to be played, and I’m confident we can compete on all fronts.

“But, as always, I’m happy if we can just win one of those.”

Goals from Daniel Chadwick and Scott Hargreaves earned Carlton a 2-0 win over Rawdon Old Boys at the weekend, while Beeston defeated Headingley 6-1. City’s 2-1 victory over Whitkirk meant it’s as you were at the top.

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Knaresborough Town Reserves picked up a vital win in their battle to beat the drop in the Premier Division, running out 3-0 winners at Salts through first-half goals from Tendai Machama, Adam Baker and Ben Dickens, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.

Hunslet moved above Ilkley Town into fourth with a 5-1 win at Sherburn White Rose, but Ilkley’s 13-0 West Yorkshire League Cup win at Wyke Wanderers suggests they will be very keen on regaining that position soom.

Robin Hood Athletic defeated Field 5-3 to complete the Premier Division action.

In Division One, leaders Hall Green United’s 3-0 loss at rivals Hartshead allowed Boroughbridge to go top again with an emphatic 8-0 win at Leeds Modernians.

Aberford Albion are only two points off the top following their 2-1 win at Howden Clough, while Kirk Deighton’s 2-1 win against Rothwell means they are still in the promotion hunt.

Featherstone Colliery returned to winning ways with a 4-2 victory over Newsome, while East End Park’s four-match winning run came to an end with a 2-1 loss at Kippax.

Oxenhope Recreation defeated Pool 1-0, while Wetherby Athletic played out a 3-3 draw with Otley Town.

In Division Two, Campion Reserves put a seven-point gap between them and Glasshoughton Rock in emphatic style, beating them 7-1 at Manningham Mills Sports Centre.

Swillington Saints were unable to gain significant ground after their 4-4 draw with Hunsworth.

Kellingley Welfare remain in 6th after their 4-2 win over Ripon City, while Brighouse Old Boys suffered their 14th loss of the season, going down 4-0 at Altofts. A 2-1 victory for Old Centralians over Tingley Athletic completed the weekend’s action.

COUNTY AMATEURS

Golcar United continued their title charge as they put Ovenden West Riding to the sword with an 8-0 victory.

The league leaders led 2-0 at the break before the floodgates opened. Ryan John and Alex Hallam both struck braces, with Kieron Lawrence, Dominic Moorhouse, Buddy Cox and Doran Jordan also finding the back of the net. Defeat for Ovenden West Riding leaves them 11th in the division, six points clear of basement-side Lepton Highlanders, with just 10 points from their 15 games.

Littletown’s title hopes took a further blow as they played out an action-packed 5-5 draw against Ryburn United. Ryburn had raced into a 3-1 lead at the break, before the visitors fought back and earned a point. Christian Silkstone was Ryburn’s star man as he hit a hat-trick, with George Turner bagging a brace. Luke Griffiths, Joe Jagger, Curtis McMahon, Pat Sykes and Mathew Schofield all registered for Littletown who lie fourth in the league, 13 points behind Golcar with just two games in hand. Ryburn remain fifth and strengthened their hold on a top-half finish.

Lowly Toller FC fought back to defeat Lower Hopton 4-3 in an impressive display. Lower Hopton led 2-1 at the interval, with Josh Cooper hitting a brace and Dale Hanson also registering for the hosts. But a Kamran Khan brace and strikes from Luke Hepton and Taweed Ahmed left third-placed Lower Hopton stunned. Toller’s fourth victory of the season sees them stay ninth with 14 points from their 14 games.

Elsewhere, TVR United kept the pressure on Golcar United as they defeated Route One Rovers 2-1 thanks to goals from Mohammed Ismaeel and Haseeb Rehman.

TVR trail the leaders by seven points with two games in hand. Steeton Reserves eased to a 5-0 victory over Bradford Olympic, whilst PFC and Lepton Highlanders saw their game postponed.