Carlton Athletic have made an impressive start in their bid to claim the Premier Division title for a third straight season.
Sitting third in the table with two games in hand on Beeston St Anthony’s and Leeds City above, Carlton are already looking more likely contenders than last season, where a remarkable run saw them go from mid-table in February to league champions.
Manager Mark Pitts is very happy with his side’s early steps in their title defence.
He said: “We’ve had a good start, certainly better than last seasons at this stage.
“For the past three or four weeks we haven’t had a full squad to select from, so in the coming weeks we will have plenty of bodies back.
“The fact we have got so many points up until now, though, is a huge plus.
“I think three consecutive league titles has only been achieved once before in our league many years ago, and, as always, we want to do well in the cups, too.”
Pitts reflected on last season’s fairytale rise for Carlton en-route to the title, and believes it serves as an example that his side are capable of anything.
“Nobody expected us to do what we did last season” he continued.
“By the end of February, we were about eight games behind those at the top of the league and we ended up winning the league on the penultimate game of the season.
“We had won the treble the season before, but last season topped that, just because of that run when everybody had already written us off.”
With the trophy cabinet bursting at Carlton, Pitts insists his side have no intention to move to a higher level, seeing the West Yorkshire League very much as their home.
“I get asked this question a lot, why don’t you take them to the Northern Counties League?” he said.
“Carlton Athletic have always been a West Yorkshire League side as far back as I can remember growing up as a kid in the area.
“The lads at Carlton are all a group of friends. They’ve grown up together and played football together for a long time. They have an incredible bond between them.
“Clubs like us should stay loyal to this league. I don’t think standard-wise there is a great difference between the top end of our league and the Northern Counties East League Division One.”
Carlton picked up their first draw of the campaign in a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Ilkley Town. Beeston were however, unable to take advantage after a shock 5-3 home loss to Huddersfield Amateur with both Lee Turnbull and Jack O’Malley dismissed.
Leeds made no mistakes and stretched their lead at the top to four points with a 5-1 win at Hunslet.
Whirkirk Wanderers’ early form continues to desert them after a ‘93rd-minute’ equaliser from Horbury Town’s Joe Penn held them to a 1-1 draw.
Wyke Wanderers’ recent revival has also ground to a halt with back-to-back defeats confirmed by their 3-2 loss to Headingley. Knaresborough Reserves and Salts’ struggles continued, with Knaresborough losing 4-2 at home to Sherburn White Rose, while Salts suffered a 6-0 loss at Rawdon Old Boys. Robin Hood Athletic held on to ninth spot with a 1-0 win over Field.
Most of the Division One and Two sides turned their attention to the West Yorkshire League Cup, writes JAMIE WOODHOUSE.
The first round cooked up a tasty battle between Division One’s second and third sides, Hall Green United and Boroughbridge.
Boroughbridge progressed thanks to goals from Callum Rodgers and Chris Simpson.
Division One leaders Aberford Albion are through after a 4-2 win over compatriots Rothwell.
Newsome booked their place in the next round but were made to work harder than they possibly would have expected in a 4-3 win over Howden Clough.
Stefan Connor bagged a brace for Howden with Austin Broadbent also on target, but Newsome did just enough to avoid an upset.
Division One’s basement club, Oxenhope Recreation, met Division Two strugglers Brighouse Old Boys and won 5-0.
Lee Reilly bagged a hat-trick for Oxenhope and James Bailey and Luke Scott also scored.
In the shock of the round, Division Two’s Huddersfield YM dismantled Division One’s Featherstone Colliery 7-2.
Jordan Jaber and Jack Bennett both netted twice for YM with Sam Auty, Harry Brook and Brandon Silverwood also on target.
Kirk Deighton Rangers were another side to knock out higher-ranked competition with their 4-3 win over Otley Town, as were Old Centralians with their 3-2 win on penalties over Pool after 2-2 at full-time.
Kippax put an end to the trend by beating Knaresborough Celtic 3-1. Leeds Modernians also required penalties, beating Swillington Saints 5-4 after a 3-3 draw in normal time.
Division Two leaders Glasshoughton Rock had a 6-2 win over Hunsworth, while Campion Reserves advanced with a 3-2 win over Altofts. Shelley Reserves ensured that the top four in Division Two are through by beating Wetherby Athletic 3-0.
WEST RIDING COUNTY AMATEUR LEAGUE
Golcar United move further clear at the top of the division with a 3-0 victory against Bradford Olympic, writes THOMAS RITCHIE.
Buddy Cox sent Golcar into the interval 1-0 up, before second-half strikes from Alex Hallam and Toby Farrington secured the three points, and left Bradford Olympic in seventh.
Lower Hopton were unable to keep pace with Golcar as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat away to Steeton Reserves.
Will Knight, Jack Morrell and Casey Dowthwaite were all on target for the hosts, who won their third game of the season, whilst Lower Hopton sit four points behind league leaders Golcar.
Toller won their first game of the season as they ran out 4-2 winners against fellow strugglers Lepton Highlanders.
Brendan Maltby struck a hat-trick, with Zakariyya Daya also finding the back of the net for the hosts, who were able to pull away after being held 2-2 at half-time.
Goals from Max Mallinson and Mark Godley were not enough for Lepton, who dropped below Toller with just one win from their nine games.
Route One Rovers continued their unbeaten start as they thrashed struggling Ovenden West Riding 7-0.
Danyal Yasin hit a hat-trick, with Robert McDonald scoring a brace and Jordan Dimuka finding the target for Rovers’ fourth win in five.
Ryburn United continued their good start as they defeated TVR United 3-0. Kristian Silkstone struck twice, and George Turner also got on the scoresheet as Ryburn made it five wins in eight games, holding onto fourth. This was TVR United’s first defeat after winning their first four games. However, they do remain in the top half.
Unbeaten Littletown saw their game with the winless DRAM Community called off as the latter have withdrawn from the league.