FARNLEY Sports felt the instant impact of mobilising their reserves in a gruelling 2-2 derby draw with Stanningley Old Boys.
Drafting in Dale Dodsworth and Craig Talbot from their second string – who play in the fifth tier – helped reverse a worrying trend of conceding late goals, as Shane Gaunt snatched an 89th-minute equaliser.
“It was a good derby, with a big crowd supporting both teams and tackles flying in,” Farnley manager Scott Horner said.
“I thought we were the better team, to be honest, but a draw was probably a fair result.
“We felt like we’d lost in the end but at 2-1 down with four minutes left, you always take a point.”
After a goalless first half at Hough Top, in-form Gaunt opened the scoring which precipitated a Stanningley rethink and a change in formation.
The hosts pushed forward and the switch paid off when a Farnley defender turned a Nathan Roebuck cross into his own net.
Terrell Phillips turned the tide with a terrific volley from 20 yards, after some good work from Tom Stewart and George Rutherford, to make it 2-1 in the 80th minute.
With a minute to play Gaunt got his 14th of the season, a scrappy effort that bobbled in front of the keeper and rolled in.
Horner, whose side sit second bottom having played only eight league games, believes their chances of a title challenge have all but evaporated, saying, “I think our half chance at the title has gone now.
“If we get to a cup final and finish around mid-table I’ll be happy with the season.
“We brought Dale and Craig out of the reserves to give some of the others a kick up the backside after a really poor December.
“We’re conceding goals late on, which is worrying me, so we want to get that sorted out.”
Leeds Medics stayed top of the Premier Division with a 7-1 win against a weakened Trinity at Weetwood.
Brad Chambers scored a hat-trick, John Forrest a brace and David Emms and James Chadwick were also on target.
Stevie Travers was rewarded with Trinity’s consolation and he continues to shine in a struggling side.
Stanley United, who beat Ealandians 1-0, are joint top with Medics but have two games in hand.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Whiteley got the winning goal and was the difference between the two teams, despite Lee McGrath’s valiant goalkeeping.
Meanwhile, Beeston Juniors won 5-3 in their mid-table meeting with Grangefield Old Boys.
Ryan Dawson netted a treble and Carlton Binks scored twice, but Beeston were given a fright when Grangefield pulled it back to 3-2 after being three goals down at half-time.
Grangefield’s goals were courtesy of Nick Smith, Matt Tomlinson and Niall Coleman.
In the Championship, leaders Morley Town slipped up only to regain their footing and defeat struggling Shire Academics 2-1.
Shire took the lead early in the second-half through Josef Hoosan, only for Kevin Mackay to convert a corner and James Walker to deflect in to make sure the points went back to Glen Road.
Drighlington, who have dropped only two points this season, defeated bottom side Alwoodley Reserves 4-0.
They assumed control through an Andrew Arnett header on 15 minutes and it looked like the floodgates open, yet Alwoodley mounted a stubborn resistance.
This lasted an hour before Ryan Rhodes, Sam Thorpe and Mikey Durham finished the job.
How Bob Greenwood’s side use their three games in hand will determine much of how the second-tier title race pans out.
Despite last week’s positive result against Shire, Calverley United continue to be dragged into relegation trouble and they fell 3-1 to Mount St Mary’s.
Jordan Talbot, Tom Sheridan and Connor Parsons got the goals for the third-placed side, while Chris Coates saved further Calverley blushes.
Elsewhere, Wortley came back to restrict Collingham Juniors to a 2-2 draw.
Mike Peace and Mark Pieri helped Collingham surge in front but they were pegged back by a second-half double; the frustration heightened when a stonewall penalty was waved away in injury time.
Division One table-toppers Gildersome Spurs strolled to a 5-1 win over Dewsbury Rangers.
Mike Hall struck twice while Ben Keedy, Lucas Scott and Conor Firth also netted.
Leeds Independent, meanwhile, kept up the pace with an equally straightforward 4-1 defeat of Farsley Celtic Juniors Reserves.
Horsforth St Margaret’s leapfrogged St Bede’s by beating them 3-2 and Huddersfield YMCA edged out Leeds Medics III by a single goal.
In Division Two there were victories for Idle, Leeds City Old Boys, Morley Town Reserves and Ealandians Reserves.