West Yorkshire League: ‘Retribution’ for scorned Carlton Athletic as they land County Challenge Cup

GLORY AWAITS: Captain Joe O'Neil celebrates after scoring in the 1-1 draw at Hunslet Club as Carlton Athletic move nearer to retaining the title. Picture by Steve Riding.
GLORY AWAITS: Captain Joe O'Neil celebrates after scoring in the 1-1 draw at Hunslet Club as Carlton Athletic move nearer to retaining the title. Picture by Steve Riding.
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QUADRUPLE-chasing Carlton Athletic are County Challenge Cup winners with boss Mark Pitts hailing a sense of “retribution” after being booted out of the competition last year.

Carlton will look to take another step towards an unprecedented four-timer tonight when visiting Leeds City in the semi finals of the West Yorkshire League Cup.

Everyone wants to win the County Cup, you are the best team in West Riding. It’s a good feeling, especially when you have been kicked out the year before.

Carlton boss Mark Pitts

Athletic could then wrap up another West Yorkshire League title with two games to go this weekend if beating Saturday’s visitors Wyke Wanderers.

Carlton also have the final of the Leeds & District FA Senior Challenge Cup to look forward to against Whitkirk Wanderers at Elland Road on Thursday, May 23.

But however the quest for the remaining three trophies ends, the prestigious West Riding FA County Challenge Cup is already safely in the Town Street cabinet following Wednesday night’s 3-0 victory against Huddersfield Amateur at Fleet Lane.

Carlton hoped they were closing in on County Cup joy last year only to be kicked out of the competition for unintentionally playing an ineligible player - Anees Younis - in their semi final against Rawdon Old Boys.

Unbeknown to Carlton boss Pitts, Younis had recently played for a step 6 side in Harrogate Railway meaning Carlton were kicked out with Rawdon going on to win the final.

Twelve months later, the trophy is now Carlton’s and there is no disguising the Town Street side’s delight.

“After what happened last year it was retribution,” said Pitts. “It felt very, very good to win it, very sweet and credit to Huddersfield Amateur.

“I thought we were really good on the night, especially in the first half, they were the better side in all honesty but in the second half we came out with the bit between our teeth. We came out fighting and played some really good football.

“Everyone wants to win the County Cup, you are the best team in West Riding. It’s a good feeling, especially when you have been kicked out the year before.”

Despite Amateur’s strong start, goals from Reece Fennell, Nathan Kemp and Daniel Chadwick ultimately saw Athletic to victory to cue wild celebrations on a school night that led to repercussions at work the next day.

“I remember going to work on Thursday morning with a bit of a sore head,” laughed Pitts.

“It got a little bit hectic but I got myself out of there like managers do.

“When you are younger you stay and get hammered but when you get a bit older like I am now at 43 you enjoy a couple of celebratory drinks and then do a disappearing act so that’s what I did.”

Carlton are ultimately now just four games away from celebrating a truly remarkable quadruple though first and foremost comes tonight’s League Cup semi final at Tom Liddell’s Leeds City against whom Pitts is expecting a stern test.

“It’s always a hard game against them,” said the Carlton boss.

“Obviously Tommy always sets up well.

“They are a good set of boys and they have got some good players.

“We have got a few missing because it’s midweek and you know what it’s like when you are amateur and it’s mid-week - people working away so we are down on a few numbers.

“But I imagine it will be the same for them as well. It will be an interesting game.”

Win, lose or draw, Carlton would then be massive odds-on to wrap up the league with victory in Saturday’s home clash against bottom side and already relegated Wyke Wanderers who have a goal difference of minus 68.

Just three points from their final three games would seal the title but Pitts hopes there is no need for the title race to go beyond this weekend.

“If we beat Wyke we win it and we need three points out of three games left.

“I’m hoping we get it wrapped up on Saturday.”

Closest pursuers Leeds City at least kept themselves mathematically in the hunt with last Wednesday’s 7-0 romp at home to Wyke.

Carlton then drew 1-1 at Hunslet Club three days later.

Third-placed Beeston were held to a 3-3 draw at home to seventh-placed Knaresborough Town the same afternoon, three days after also drawing 2-2 against visiting Hunslet in which Beeston’s Matthew Bugg netted a 96th-minute equaliser to complete a brace.

The two draws for Hunslet secured a fourth-placed finish for Ilkley Town who also progressed to the West Yorkshire League Cup semi-finals after Huddersfield YM failed to raise a team.

Shelley also progressed after knocking out Horbury Town in a marathon 14-13 penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw.

Second-bottom Salts picked up a 4-3 win over sixth-bottom visitors Robin Hood Athletic while sixth-placed Whitkirk Wanderers won 2-1 at tenth-placed Huddersfield Amateur.

In Division One, relegation-battling Pool enjoyed a fine week with Saturday’s 3-0 win at fellow basement battlers Leeds Modernians and Wednesday’s 3-2 success at home to Wetherby Athletic following the previous Sunday’s 4-2 win on penalties against Ilkley after a 1-1 draw in the Wharfedale District Cup. Bottom club Howden Clough lost 2-0 at home to 11th-placed Featherstone Colliery while in mid table Otley Town went in 6-0 at Oxenhope Recreation.

Champions Boroughbridge ended with a 3-0 loss at ninth-placed East End Park and second-placed finishers Hall Green United drew 2-2 at home to third-placed finishers Aberford Albion.

In Division Two, fourth-placed Huddersfield YM had to settle for a 1-1 draw at bottom club Baildon Trinity Athletic, allowing Shelly to pull clear in third with a 2-0 success at home to sixth-placed Altofts.