Ealandians may be out of the title race but their 5-3 victory against contenders Alwoodley proves they will have a huge say in who wins the Premier Division.
The Elland outfit endured a difficult January, in which they exited the League Cup at the hands of St Nicholas and suffered league defeats to leaders Stanley United and Stanningley.
A clinical first-half display, which put them 3-1 up at the break, earned them the win over a depleted Alwoodley side without its two first-choice central defenders at Elland Cricket Club.
“We raced into the lead and were very comfortable, but then we fell apart to be honest,” player-manager Wayne Crossley said.
“If they’d scored the penalty at 3-2, they would have gone on to win it. The save gave us a lift at the right time.
“We’ve been poor recently but seem to have turned it round a bit in the last few weeks.
“To be fair, the game could have gone either way and we were quite lucky to get the win.”
With the confidence gained from last week’s win over Leeds Medics to the fore, Ealandians surged into a three-goal lead through Crossley, Wayne Schofield and an own goal.
This saw all of the intensity drop out of the home side’s play and they were found out as the visitors struck either side of the interval, Graham Shaw and Callum Armstrong finding the net.
The turning point came when Alwoodley earned a penalty and Armstrong scuffed an effort towards goal that Lee McGrath barely had to bend down to save. Alwoodley, who have won one of their last four away games, would recover through Rob Oxley but not before Danny Davidson and Chris Parker had made sure.
Despite the encouragement of the last two results, Ealandians boss Crossley feels his team have no chance of going on to win the title.
“The main reason we’re starting to string some result together is because we’ve got a consistent squad,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of players missing for the important games and that’s made a huge difference.
“I think we’re out of the title race. We have had too many poor results. I think we’ll be there or thereabouts, in second or third, and we’ll certainly have a hand in who wins it.”
Another team that will certainly be ‘there or thereabouts’ is Farsley Celtic Juniors, who beat Stanningley Old Boys 4-0 at Hough Top despite not being at their best.
Neither side matched their recent performance levels, particularly Stanningley, who were a shadow of the side that have defeated St Nicholas and Ealandians.
Two goals in each half for Farsley – Ben Wilson and Ryan Collett in the first and Danny Lyons and Josh Maskill in the second – were enough for the champions to win.
The title challenge has turned into a two-horse race between Farsley and Stanley, with the reigning champions braced for tough tests against Alwoodley and Leeds Medics in coming weeks. Grangefield Old Boys breathed a sigh of relief as their 4-1 defeat of St Nicholas at Weetwood draws them away from the relegation zone.
Strikes from Kristian Dacre, Tom Hall, Keelan Milner and the in-form Matty Tomlinson sealed a welcome result for the inconsistent Grangefield, while Jymel Black was on target for Nick’s.
Elsewhere in the top flight, Beeston Juniors defeated Farnley Sports 4-0 at Cardinal Square thanks to efforts from Carlton Binks, Ryan Dawson, Joshua Walsh and substitute Ashley Knowles.
In the Championship, new-look Calverley United gave Drighlington a good game despite losing 2-1 at Calverley Park.
Drig went two up courtesy of Sam Thorpe and Ryan Rhodes and although the hosts reduced the arrears in the 75th minute there was little doubt as to the destination of the points.
Morley Town dropped points for the first time in 2017 as two late goals saw them snatch a 4-4 with Beeston St Anthony’s at Beggars Hill.
Tony Garth and Sam Bradley put Beeston ahead but Morley came back with goals from Matthew Ibbotson and Jovan Kioseff.
Mark Gibbon and Garth restored the two goal margin, only for the visitors to get two in the 80th and 81st minute thanks to Ibbotson and Aidan Philip.
Shire Academics have picked up some useful recent results but they were defeated 2-0 at Collingham due to Richard Metcalfe’s brace, while Wortley Knights edged struggling Thornesians out 3-2.
In Division One, league leaders Gildersome Spurs secured a big result in beating third-placed Leeds Independent 4-2.