LEEDS Medics’ defensive solidity has been vital to their five-star start in the Premier Division, which continued with a 2-0 defeat of Stanley United.
Nine games into the season in all competitions and Steve Ledger’s table-toppers have conceded only two goals, by far the best defensive record in the top flight.
“We lost six players from the first-team squad last year and I was really quite concerned we might struggle,” Ledger said.
“We did a little bit of recruitment and promoted a couple of guys from the second team.
“Putting a lot of work into our defensive shape has paid off and it’s been a brilliant start.”
Rothwell Sports Club hosted a terrific contest; the only Premier Division game of the weekend was well refereed by Craig Hainsworth and both sides went hammer and tongs.
Medics sat tight and got their goals in the 75th minute through Tom Smith and then Brad Chambers struck in injury-time to seal a fifth straight victory.
Stanley have fallen to fourth with two successive home defeats having slipped up against Beeston Juniors last week.
“It was a very tough game against Stanley,” Ledger added.
“It was a wonderful game of football and both sides said after the final whistle, it was exactly how it should be in this league across 90 minutes.
“The game was a real credit to everyone involved and hats off to Stanley, they were brilliant.
“We managed to find a way to win again which was great and now we’ve got a massive cup game against Askern Villa, who are at least a couple of tiers above us.”
Other Premier Division sides were in Yorkshire Old Boys Shield action, an invitational tournament also open to North Yorkshire, Humber and Teesside leagues.
An eye-catching first-round tie that pitted Farsley Celtic Juniors against Alwoodley which saw Farsley come out 4-2 winners, adding to their high-scoring Marflitt success last week. Alwoodley took advantage of the high wind they played with in the first half to lead 2-0 at the break, James Willmuth and representative star Graham Shaw with well-taken efforts.
But while the league champions failed to adapt early on, they came charging back with two free-kicks from Chad Morris that curled over the keeper from nearly identical positions.
After nursing an injury in recent weeks, hotshot Danny Lyons bagged a late brace to put his side through.
Farsley face St Bede’s in the second round, who eased past East Ardsley Wanderers 6-0.
Elsewhere, Championship side Horsforth St Margaret’s upset Premier Division Stanningley 4-2. Stanningley, who sit ninth in the league without a win, were desperately poor on the day and were deservedly 2-0 down after 20 minutes before Tom Stewart began the response.
They went down to ten men in the second half which ruined their chances of a comeback, although Stewart got a second consolation late on.
One-time Shield finalists Trinity were shown what the current crop of sides are capable of when holders St Mary’s Yarm beat them 9-1, with Steve Travers getting Trinity’s goal.
Beeston Juniors battered typically-strong Leeds City Old Boys 7-0, with doubles from Ryan Dawson and Andy Staton forming the backbone of the win. Meanwhile, Morley Town pushed past Wortley 4-1 but had to wait until the second half for their rewards which came through Aidan Philip, Ryan Hartley and Ben Holdsworth twice.
Second-tier outfits Shire Academics and Thornesians bowed out at the first-round stage, losing 2-1 to Fishburn Park and 6-2 to Apollo respectively.
Premier Division bested the Championship on two further occasions, with Drighlington crushing Mount St Mary’s 8-1 and Grangefield defeating Leeds Independent 4-1.
Revamped Division Two team Farnley Sports met their match in Reckitts, to whom they lost 10-1, while Collegians also exited, 7-4 at the hands of Redcar Newmarket.
Back in the Championship, the points were shared in a 2-2 draw between second-bottom Leeds Medics Reserves and eighth-placed Collingham Juniors.
In a game of few chances, Johnny Dixon broke the deadlock on the hour before Medics levelled with a deflected effort.
A Richard Metcalfe header from Adam Weatherhall’s free-kick looked like the winner with ten minutes to play, but the Reserves snatched a late equaliser in injury time.
There were five Division One games, with wins for Alwoodley Reserves, Ealandians Reserves, Garforth Rangers and Sky Blue, in a 4-3 thriller with Rothwell.
Morley beat Fairbank United 3-2 in Division Two, as Tyersal and Garforth Crusaders also claimed maximum points.
There were big wins in Division Three for Lepton Highlanders and Leeds City Reserves.