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 13th May: Hood end the season with a goalless draw at Ilkley Town.

1st  TEAM  LEAGUE  RESULTS  2016-17

13 Aug H Pool D 2-2 Lister, Collinson
17 Aug A Beeston St Anthony's L 0-4  
20 Aug A Oxenhope Recreation W 2-0 Pickering, Finlayson
24 Aug H Carlton Athletic L 1-4 Pickering
27 Aug H Headingley L 1-2 Finlayson
31 Aug A Horbury Town L 2-4 Finlayson, Murgatroyd
03 Sep H Oxenhope Recreation W 4-0 Finlayson(2), Haigh, Lister
10 Sep H Ilkley Town W 1-0 Mcilear
17 Sep A Brighouse Old Boys W 2-1 Murgatroyd, Ritson
24 Sep A Knaresborough Town L 1-2 Ritson
08 Oct H Horbury Town D 2-2 Ritson, Aston
22 Oct A Field W 1-0 Smith
29 Oct H Leeds City W 2-1 Lister, Finlayson
12 Nov A Hunslet Club L 4-7 Murgatroyd(2), Finlayson, Aston
26 Nov H Wetherby Athletic W 3-0 Lister(2), Finlayson
28 Jan H Hunslet Club L 1-2 Ritson
11 Feb H Field W 4-1 M Gould(2), Lister, Pickering
25 Feb A Shelley L 1-2 Smith
04 Mar H Shelley D 0-0  
11 Mar H Knaresborough Town W 1-0 Haigh
18 Mar A Wetherby Athletic D 3-3 Murgatroyd, Pickering, Finlayson
25 Mar H Brighouse Old Boys L 3-4 Murgatroyd(2), Finlayson
01 Apr A Pool L 1-2 Finlayson
12 Apr A Sherburn White Rose D 2-2 Murgatroyd, Pickering
17 Apr H Beeston St Anthony's L 1-4 Finlayson
19 Apr A Leeds City L 0-2  
22 Apr H Sherburn White Rose L 0-4  
27 Apr A Carlton Athletic L 1-2 Murgatroyd
29 Apr A Headingley L 2-3 Hancock(2)
13 May A Ilkley Town D 0-0  


Click on the opponents for a match report.
Saturday games usually kick off at 2.30 (or 2:00 during the short daylight months),
and it's FREE admission, so why not come along?  Click HERE for a map to find the ground.


DATE:   20 May 2017  

Premier  Division:

1 C Carlton Athletic 30 27 0 3 120 25 95 81
2 Leeds City 30 18 4 8 80 44 36 58
3 Beeston St Anthony's 30 18 4 8 74 52 22 58
4 Field 30 17 6 7 65 38 27 * 54
5 Pool 30 14 5 11 61 53 8 47
6 Headingley 30 15 3 12 59 61 -2 * 45
7 Horbury Town 30 13 5 12 71 56 15 44
8 Shelley 30 13 5 12 44 45 -1 44
9 Sherburn White Rose 30 13 4 13 59 73 -14 43
10 Hunslet Club 30 12 5 13 59 59 0 41
11 Knaresborough Town 30 12 4 14 52 56 -4 40
12 Ilkley Town 30 10 4 16 45 51 -6 34
13 Robin Hood Athletic 30 9 6 15 48 60 -12 33
14 R Oxenhope Recreation 30 8 1 21 43 92 -49 * 22
15 R Wetherby Athletic 30 4 6 20 34 95 -61 18
16 R Brighouse Old Boys 30 4 4 22 43 97 -54 16

* Adjustment made

Clicking on a team link above brings up their results on the FA Full Time website,
or to see all the West Yorkshire League results and tables click  HERE.


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West Riding County FA Challenge Cup

 01 Oct Round 1 Old Centralians H W 5 - 0
05 Nov Round 2 Goole United H W 7 - 2
03 Dec Round 3 Shelf United A W 3 - 0
07 Jan
Round 4
2 - 2
(4-3 pens)
04 Feb Qtr Final Ryburn United H L 2 - 3

West Yorkshire Association League Cup

  Round 1 BYE      
10 Dec Round 2 Nostell Miners Welfare A W 4 - 0
18 Feb Round 3 Hartshead H W 1 - 0
08 Apr Qtr Final Sherburn White Rose A L 1 - 3

Leeds & District FA Senior Cup

15 Oct Round 1 Stanningley Old Boys H W 4 - 0
19 Nov Round 2 St Nicholas H W 4 - 1
21 Jan Qtr Final Farsley Celtic Jrs A W 6 - 2
23 Mar Semi Final Beeston St Anthony's N L 0 - 3


1st  TEAM  PLAYER  STATS  2016-17






1 Murgatroyd, Scott  28  1  9    
2 Ritson, Joe  27  1  4    6
3 Finlayson, James  24  4  12    2
4 Haigh, Alex  23  4  2    1
5 Gould, Matthew  22  3  2  1  6
6 Richardson, Lewis  21  2      9
Pickering, Dale  19  7  5    3
8 Collinson, Christopher  19    1    3
9 Lister, Jamie  18  2  6    1
10 Wood, Lee  18        2
11 Bridges, Daniel  17  2      2
12 Tunney, John  14  1      4
13 Aston, Curtis  11  2  2    
14 Brown, Christopher  9        1
15 Smith, Thomas  8  16  2    1
16 Owen, Nathan  8  10      
17 Smith, Matthew  7        
18 Coupe, Chris  6  4      
19 Temple, Mark  6  3      
20 Bailey, Ryan  6        
21 Sanderson, Scott  4        
22 McIlear, Brian  3    1    
23 Mitchell, Paul  3        
24 Downey, Jonny  2  2      
25 Davis, Jason  2  1      
26 Hancock, Stephen  2    2    
27 Fisher, Jack  1  4      
28 Cottrell, Alex  1        
29 Stafford, Paul  1        
30 Conway, Andrew    1      
31 Parker, Declan    1      
32 Smith, Spencer    1      



No match report.

No match report.

No match report.

No match report.

We started great, we put untold pressure on the Leeds goal and created some fantastic opportunities. None of which went in but the signs were there that on this small pitch we could get a very good result. Typically Leeds passed the ball probably better than any team in our league with their movement off the ball second to none. As Leeds do though they don’t create the chances all their possession deserves. Their left winger who was absolutely rapid gave Danny Bridges a tough evening in the first half and really made him concentrate, to his credit Bridges did an hell of a job. The one time he did break from Bridges he was brought down by Chris Brown which in all honesty was soft as he was already on his way down. Penalty converted 1-0
After half time we really put the pressure on as Scott Murgatroyd was on a different planet showing the kind of ability I had been told about and literally was unplayable. The keeper made save after save and stopped Murgs from scoring 3 times on other days would have been converted.  As we do though 1 ball into space was spotted by Lee Wood who couldn’t get to the ball before the fwd and slotted into an empty goal. 2-0 and this was totally against the run of play. Prior to that the impressive Joey Ritson had a great chance to head home but missed the target. Another game of what ifs… credit to their keeper and credit to them for their attitude in keeping hold of the ball it was a good game of football we maybe have got something out of.

I came into this game confident that we could spring a surprise on a very strong Beeston team. We started the game in such a positive way with Dale Pickering missing 2 great chances from 6 yards out, both should have resulted in goals. This was the let off Beeston needed and in turn converted from a free kick with a free header. Once again a very soft goal to concede but in truth it was again a very even game. Prior to the half time whistle we had a couple of chances to score but didn’t take the chance to test the League Rep keeper.
1-0 at half time we were still in the game but we quickly lost our shape as we tried doing things we shouldn’t have been doing and been everywhere but the position we were meant to be covering. As Beeston do they score 2 quick fire goals and are ruthless in front of goal. James Finlayson gave us some hope when he converted a good chance to make it 3-1 but Beeston's game management was just far too good as the coasted and scored late on to make the result look worse than the performance as an whole suggested.

Almost the same 11 got the chance to really avenge the cup heart ache from the weekend as we fielded again a strong enough team to win this vital league fixture. The game started and within 2 minutes Lee Wood was adjudged to have fouled the Sherburn Fwd who looked quite a distance offside anyway, but nevertheless it was 1-0 as Danny Middleton converted. Again we looked strong and caused them quite a lot of issues and the keeper was forced into 1 or 2 saves but the signs were good. Dale Pickering after good work nicked the ball off the full back and powered home from a tight angle to make it 1-1. From then until HT the game stayed relatively even as both side created a few openings but we went in 1-1.
After the break we kicked on and had 3 or 4 very good chances to get another goal but as it is at the moment we couldn’t convert them until Scott Murgatroyd tapped home from a yard out after good work from Dale. We then switched off and from a corner a free header made it 2-2 …unbelievably a player was not picked up. The game finished 2-2 and a gain a game we did enough to win we just have our issues at both ends when it comes to been ruthless.

Quarter Final day and a chance to look away from the league and really have a go at going deep in the cup and another semi-final. We started bright again with Sherburn playing what looked like a 4-2-4 which was well marshalled by our back line. A great ball from Scott Murgatroyd found James Finlayson on the spot at the back stick to slot home. 1-0 this had followed a series of chances where Murgs and Dale Pickering should really have converted chances. As it is written it was one way traffic with the Sherburn players showing a real dislike to one another, but 1-0 HT so al was good.
More of the same was demanded and the defensive strength was a real plus for us. After the half we again started well without taking our opportunities with the big Sherburn keeper really doing well to stop a couple of goal bound efforts. As is our form at the moment we switched off and found ourselves conceding another needless goal. And straight from the restart another was shipped in, again within minutes of leading we are 2-1 down. We made changes and really had a go at getting the equaliser but to no avail as the big man in goal continued to thwart any chance we had. Sherburn scored a late goal to make it 3-1 but another game we shouldn’t have lost but the end result the same. Missed chances and mistakes the root.

We went into this game off the back of a poor result but knowing we have the ability to really kick on and beat a Pool side who are flying at the moment. Pool scored an injury time equaliser on the opening day of the season so revenge was in mind to settle that injustice. We couldn’t have started any better in truth, we created chance after chance and probed forward at every opportunity with the front 2 and Jamie Lister in particular impressing. After 20 minutes Lister played a great ball through to James Finlayson who was 1v1 on the angle, the keeper pulled off a great save turning the ball wide but Scott Murgatroyd was on his way in to seemingly tap home. Like Gazza in '96 though his legs just weren’t long enough as he agonisingly couldn’t reach to turn home. In the same phase of play the right back for Pool pumped the ball up field for the CB’s both missing it before Joey Ritson brought the on rushing fwd down for a penalty. The penalty was dispatched past Matty Smith.
We came in at HT and had some strong words with regards to concentration demanding a little bit more in the second half. We started brightly and Jinky as Jinky does scored a well taken goal lobbing the rushing keeper, who I may add, is a very strange character. Thinking this would now push us on the next 10 minutes we really piled on the pressure but without scoring.  Late in the game as we attempted to play out from the back with no space to play out we gave the opposition possession and a delightful cross was headed home by the Pool Fwd via Matty Smith's head as it crashed back off the bar. 2-1… We pushed and pushed but couldn’t convert the equaliser. Another game that we contributed to our own downfall, but again fair play to Pool who put that pressure on. 

Brighouse on paper was a game we should have been winning, even if it was on the back of a semi-final defeat. Brighouse opened the scoring despite us having complete control of the game for the opening 20 minutes. The Brighouse forward was left 1v1 and turned the defence inside out as he slotted home for a shock goal. The less said about this game the better but we did go in at HT with the game at 1-1.
The message was clear, continue to work hard and trust your ability. The second half started and we were the team who looked tired and leggy and a very limited, Brighouse continued to pump the ball hoping for mistakes as they looked to nick a goal. It was us that scored the goal though as Scott Murgatroyd and James Finlayson continued to cause problems for the Brighouse defence. Looking good at 2-1 Nath Owen made way for Dale Pickering and within minutes scored the most bizarre own goal I have ever seen. 40 yard out on the left wing he attempted to pass the ball back to Lee Wood in goal only for him to somehow lob him. I don’t think a word was spoken for about 5 minutes on the touchline. Shell shocked Brighouse pounced on our frailties and got a penalty from a reckless challenge from Woody. 3-2 down within minutes of leading. Our attacking players continued to go forward though and we hit the bar the post had chances cleared off the line before Murgs found an equaliser. In the dying minutes with the game looking to finish 3-3 a long ball beat the defence and with Woody off of his line the Brighouse 9 fired home. A late goal was disallowed for Murgs but in truth after that defensive display we deserved Nothing. Fair play to Brighouse for capitalising on that.

No match report..

Today’s game saw us face a Wetherby side coming off the back of a 8-0 defeat at the hands of Champions Elect Carlton Athletic. Returning to the squad was John Tunney with Young Harold unavailable due to work. The team remained unchanged from the previous week as we embarked on 2 important league games sandwiching a Cup Semi-final. The Brief to the Lads today was do not underestimate our opponents as we would receive quite a large wakeup call if that was the case. 
We started the game in a very slow and lethargic manner not using the ball well and our shape looking quite disjointed. In the opening 10 minutes we did a lot of defending a direct style of play that looked to expose any space behind the defence with the Wetherby front man looking sharp and quick. After 8 minutes though a ball played down the side of their back 3 found Tommy Smith who delivered an excellent ball into the box for Dale Pickering at the back post who did well to direct home 1-0. This then seemed to give us the impression that the game was over, and true to form with 82 minutes remaining it clearly wasn’t. Wetherby played with a back 5 with 4 narrow midfielders and 1 fwd. who had pace, their tactic was clear to see as they attempted to squeeze the life out of us in the middle and drop on loose balls in our half.
After 15 minutes a goal kick by Lee Wood was met by a unchallenged header and the ball dropped to an unchallenged Midfielder who played a ball unopposed over the top of our wide open defence for a simple 1v1 finish, 1-1 and a massive wake up call.  Typically from us we are a very quiet team, lads just seem to think a player knows what to do when the ball's played to them and information isn’t given out. Going forward to be successful our quality of information has to better and given, it has to be clear and has to be listened to. Rather than build pressure and staying patient relying on the quality we have we went forward trying to score on every attack when keeping possession was probably the better call. Wetherby’s keeper pulled off 2 great saves in the course of the half and in spells when we didn’t over think we played some great football. On the whole and 90% of the half we were terrible and at HT we went 1-1 but that was the worst half of football I’ve seen from us since I had taken over in the summer. I let my feelings be known and regardless of what will undoubtedly be said in the aftermath, sulking, moaning and a distinct lack of purpose will not be tolerated and not be a characteristic of this Robin Hood team.
The second half started very much the same as we were put under pressure from the long ball and they were the first to pick it up. Wetherby quickly got a second goal as we failed to clear the ball trying to keep the ball in play and the ball was fired home for a second and on balance a deserved goal as they built solid pressure. We had 1 or 2 opportunities going forward but nothing clear cut as they restricted our access to goal and stopped any sort of build-up play with numbers behind the ball in a very defensive formation.
Wetherby then got another goal as we again fell asleep at the back not winning the first ball and leaving a clear chance for a unchallenged shot 7 yards out which found the bottom corner.
Changes were made as John Tunney and James Finlayson came on to spark some life into us and it worked, Jinky was finding good space and Ligger and Murgs were becoming more dangerous in the attacking 3rd. What followed from the 65th minute onwards was nothing short of 1 way traffic, James Finlayson found himself through on goal but turned away the chance to shoot and Alex Haigh who looked lively all afternoon also made his way through on goal and turned down a shooting opportunity.
We changed formation and introduced Nath Owen who himself added some more life to us, and it wasn’t long before the pressure told and James Finlayson’s solid strike found the bottom corner 2-3. I say it was 1 way traffic but to Wetherby’s credit on the counter they looked really effective with the small front man looking a very good player and only for alert goalkeeping Woody found himself in the right spot at the right time. The final 10 minutes saw us have 8 clear cut chances as we hit the bar twice from corners, had a back heel cleared off the line and 3 balls played across the goal slightly too high for its intended target. Without going into too much detail with every chance we had Ligger Nath Murgs Jinky and young Alex all busting a gut to score as well as Joey and Lewis from corners. Under normal circumstances I would be delighted with the forward play but we were chasing the game.
Wetherby dropped deeper and deeper and in injury time with almost the last kick of the game we probably on merit in some ways deserved the goal but it had shades of offside about it but Murgs was played in and 3-3 it was. Whilst I say we deserved a goal based on our attacking play overall in the last 30mins, we were very poor and Wetherby can feel hard done by as they executed their game plan very well. The ref signalled to me 5 minutes of added time due to obvious time wasting tactics were all are guilty of when holding a 1 goal lead under pressure but the Wetherby management claimed to only have been told 3. In a bizarre twist straight from the kick off in the final seconds they ran through us and narrowly struck it wide - that right there summed us up.
A very underwhelming performance from us, and one that was totally out of character as we started to look like individuals rather than a team. When we play with tempo and don’t complicate it with our thoughts we look really good. Today for vast amounts of the game we defended appalling looking lethargic, we didn’t communicate we just moaned and we didn’t come together as the unit I’ve created and shown in parts this season. The ability is there, it is clearly down to our mentality and maybe preparation. Against the very best this league offers we look really good but the rest of the league we fall down a few gears. From a positive view point, we really gave it ago and been 2 goals worse off we really dug deep to score 2 goals and create many more chances, that in itself was a massive achievement regardless of who you play against. Next week let’s not find ourselves in that position and learn from what has happened.
MOM today was voted by stand in assistant for the day Andy Sibson who gave it to Murgs for his constant involvement in the game and desire to keep getting on the ball even though his touch was not necessarily at its usual high standards. A fair reflection and in Sibbos words, when it’s not going for you, you need brave players who don’t hide and Murgs was that. I never doubt the want to win by any player but il always question are you in the correct mind-set to do this. **If the players bother to read this please reflect and rather than look elsewhere spend a bit of time looking at yourself, because as stated before I analyse myself every week, that’s the only way to improve**

Today we welcomed Knaresborough Town to the Coach Ground who, like our previous opponents, had beaten us at their place earlier on in the season. That team on the day is of stark contrast to the one we have now, and that’s no knock of the players but more on a consistency basis as we are turning out the same players week in week out. John Tunney was away in Dublin on ANOTHER stag do but the return of Robin Hood's most high profile ex semi pro in Scotland James Finlayson was a positive sign as we close in on our final 3rd of the season.
With a few players changing positions back into what some might say their best positions and some back into the team we started the game in positive mood. I told the players that this was the final opportunity to really become a goal threat before major changes were made to make sure we finished the season on a massive high. We went forward moving the ball quickly and with accuracy putting our game winners in a position where they could become just that. Dale Pickering and Jamie Lister looked to expose two young FBs and got them on the back foot early doors with Scott Murgatroyd picking up to the ball and turning at every opportunity against two quite static CBs.
Our first opportunity came through the good work of Dale Pickering who went by the full back before cutting the ball back that was narrowly missed by our attacking players. Scott Murgatroyd put dangerous balls into good areas without a finishing touch but again it was all positive and we looked far more dangerous.  Alex Haigh and Matthew Gould began to dominate a good Knaresborough pairing and Widgey floated a great looping ball to Jamie Lister who helped the ball back into a good area unfortunately not to be turned home. Ligger was proving difficult to mark with his movement and general ball use was good. We carved out some great chances but without scoring as the keeper kept a few good chances out. Shot of the half didn’t actually make it to the goal but to the stomach of the visiting skipper who took a flush Murgs volley well.
Our persistence finally paid off in the 35th minute as Jamie Lister found himself free at the back stick from good build up play only for the keeper to make a remarkable save from close range and via the post, Thomas Smith's Quiff Alex Haigh was on hand to power home form a yard out 1-0 and we probably deserved it through our dominance in the final 3rd. Knaresborough did offer a threat and a low shot was held onto by Lee Wood before a save low to his left was tipped just wide, Nath Owen the players union Chairman assured me it was a top save so we will go with it. We went in 1 to the good and in all fairness looked good for it as any possession they had was largely dealt with by our back 4 who were having a tremendous game. The chat was more of the same and be prepared for an onslaught.
True to form they stepped it up and it was roles reversed as we were camped in our half for long periods of time but without the threat of a goal which was very pleasing. Again going forward we were very dangerous doing everything at pace creating plenty of openings but without that finishing touch. We made a couple of changes as Nath replaced Dale who had worked extremely hard out on the left and Jinky replaced Tommy as we looked for fresh movement in the attacking areas. Knaresborough changed to a 3 5 2 but the wide players were made to be uninfluential by our counter attacks as they sat deep and offered no width. Knaresborough had plenty of the ball and to the onlooker it did look like on away traffic but it was all controlled by our shape and concentration levels.
Mid-way through the half Joey Ritson fouled the forward on the edge of the area and the official awarded a penalty. Woody in good form currently looked buoyant and whilst it was at a good height he still had to make the save and the big man did that keeping us in the lead.
Going forward Nath sparked some life on the left as he went by his man on a few occasions setting up chances that went begging but again the positives were there. Right at the end of the game James Finlayson had the chance to double the lead but unselfishly crossed it for Murgs but it was intercepted by the keeper's outstretched arm. Woody held a few shots really well but we saw out the game to get a valuable 3 points and move on to 30 points with 10 games to still play. Again we looked defensively strong and very robust with Joey Ritson slotting back in like he’s never been away, Colly's voice marshalling the lads and Danny Bridges giving his usual 8/10 performance. We were very good when up against it at points in the game and this is what defines a good team, Lewis Richardson was faultless at the back today and shared the MOM with Lee Wood who saved a penalty in the 2nd half.

After we suffered a disappointing defeat the previous week against Shelley, what better way to put it right a week later against Shelley again! Today’s team saw no change with the lads given the opportunity to put wrongs right as last week was well below what I expect in terms of a return of points.
The game started and to my surprise the Shelley team boasted 5 changes, possible big players or a an injury crisis we aren’t to know but we go and play what we are up against. They typically and as expected went quite direct asking questions of our defensive players and shape, this week from the off they were up to the challenge winning every header and competing well whilst the ball went over the top. Lee Wood continued his good form and looked very comfortable under the high ball taking pressure off the rest of the lads in the process.
Last week whilst we offered no goal threat as an attacking unit we were well within ourselves lacking the creative spark to even open up half an opportunity, and this week we were looking a bit more dangerous. Our wide players looked good on the ball with Dale Pickering a constant positive driving force as we went forward. In the opening 20 minutes we had 2 or 3 opportunities to pull the trigger from in and around the edge of the box and they were all turned down as we looked to pass the ball. Shelley on the other hand were putting the ball in behind our back for creating pressure that way without testing Woody in the goals. The one sole opportunity they did get to score was when a ball got played into the box and fell to an unmarked Shelley player who should have scored, the header instead hit the post and bounced back into Wood’s hand. This was a massive let off and in fairness our only slip on concentration.
We continued to go forward and the ball fell to Thomas Smith on the edge of the box and instead of shooting relatively unchallenged he passed the ball which lead to nothing; a missed chance. Just before the half Thomas Smith again got the ball on the angle 8 yards out choosing to turn and shoot which was blocked with Scott Murgatroyd pulling off waiting for the ball to be set. HT 0-0 and still after 120 minutes I couldn’t tell you how good the Shelley keeper was.
We started the second half in similar fashion but this time we seemed a bit more interested in getting a shot away at the keeper and an early shot from Jamie Lister albeit straight at the keeper showed a little more intent. The second half became a bit of a non-event as possession was wasted and passes that the lads were normally completing in their sleep became hard tasks within themselves. Again we failed to open the Shelley defence up and what they lacked in youth and pace at the back their experience really showed as they closed every avenue of space. On the positive side though our defensive capabilities had improved over the week and we competed well winning the first ball, and dropping on the second ball with Lewis Richardson and Chris Collinson in particular impressing.
The game fizzled out as a 0-0 draw and a disappointing result for us at home but a positive one for Shelley as they pick 4 points up against us and we would be happy with that return. At no point did I thin k we would concede and again at no point did I think we would push for the goal, the introduction of Nath Owen failed to kick us on despite his best efforts. 180 minutes and still I don’t know if their keeper is good. 1 point from 6 over the last 2 games sees us sat at the bottom of the middle pack in 11th but only 5 points off 3rd so it most defiantly a case of missed opportunities in terms of us moving up the league. We have the personnel, we have the ability, the structure in staff we should be looking at been further up this league.

Game day and the first of a double header away at the fantastic facility and home of Shelley FC. A club that’s pumped a lot of money into their infrastructure, facilities and playing squad and they are surely a club that will make the jump to the NCEL before long if they can sustain a championship push. We went into the game again without James Finlayson and Chris Coupes through injury but other than that a fully strengthen squad and an opportunity to beat a team around us to push up the league ahead of many in the chasing pack. We set up with the exact same team as the week before as I stick to my principles of continuity and rewarding personal and team success.
Shelley set up with a 3-5-2 and from the start set out their intentions of getting the ball forward as quick as possible to their tall forward and shorter stocky forward who both had a bit about them which was clear sign the back four were in for a battle. The opening 10 minutes we found ourselves stuck in our own half and despite Shelley having the wind behind them it was clear the build-up pressure at been direct was the way they would look to punish us. They were very dangerous from set pieces as we found it very difficult to be as clinical at times in terms of meeting the ball and winning the headers but we weathered the storm and we got to grips with the hand we were dealt.
Against the run of play we broke forward and good work down the left from Dale Pickering as he beat his man pulling the ball back for Thomas Smith who smashed the ball from 12 yards into the top corner 1-0 and hopefully that would now settle us down. We then built pressure in their half but they sat deep and to their credit offered no space in behind, and despite the moving of the ball we were not really opening up the Shelley defence. On 25 minutes a challenge in the middle of the park sparked abit of controversy from the Shelley touchline which seemed to put pressure on the referee to try and level it, despite my best efforts to tell the referee to continue his good work - it seemed from a Robin Hood point of view the shouts were starting take effect and they began to get some questionable decisions.
We continued to use the width well and a great ball played in for Ligger left him 1v1 with only the keeper to beat, Unlike Jamie Lister who normally is so confident in these situations he kicked the floor fell over and the chance was gone…. A great opportunity to build the lead and really put them under pressure. As it happened they went up the other end of the field and after good link up play by Shelley, just as the forward looked like shooting a sliding challenge from Lewis Richardson who seemingly won the ball was punished and In my eyes that was the leveller that the touchline had manufactured for themselves putting the referee under pressure. You can normally see by the response of the players and it was a very disgruntled Robin Hood team feeling hard done by. But as football is you have to accept what we perceive human errors as myself and the players make them all the time. The Shelley defender stood up and powerfully found the bottom corner despite the best efforts of Lee Wood. The half was seen out with little threat of goal mouth action as neither keeper was tested and with both teams having half chances going wide.
At HT we spoke about doing what we do best and have done all season in all the positive parts of it, the players needed to be brave and really threaten their goal with a don’t shoot don’t score mentality.  The 2nd half started and they found themselves in behind our back 4 but a great challenge from Chris Collinson in the words of the linesman with a last ditch effort stopped a 1v1 situation, and despite the shouts from the touchline and in my opinion I couldn’t call it and I was closer, the ref got it right with what the linesman said…fair play to them.
The game played out in the middle third and similar to the first half clear cut chances were limited by the work of both teams at maintaining the defensive shape. In the closing 30 minutes we introduced Nath Owen who received a lot of the ball and gave us a little bit of confidence in recycling the ball. We had one chance of note in the 2nd half where Scott Murgatroyd got the ball on the edge of the box turned down a shooting opportunity taking the ball past the defender only for a great last ditch toe to stop the shot similarly to Lewis in the first half. We put the pressure on in a territorial sense as we were camped in their half but we just didn’t shoot and looked for the killer ball. Shelley to their credit stood firm and a long punt up field went over the head of Chris Collinson with Lewis on the cover chasing with the forward in a wide are which didn’t look dangerous but he somehow beat Lewis and from a narrow angle lifted the ball by Woody to make it 2-1 Shelley. An avoidable goal from our point of view and a moment of magic from them so I guess it’s up to the neutral to call that, but as you can imagine the wind was taken out of our sails. We threw Joey on as we went 3-4-3 to force a goal but we never carved out a clear opportunity as Shelley defended in numbers and well.
The game ended 2-1 and a disappointed group entered the changing rooms. A draw due to the lack of chances to both sides would have probably been a fair result as both defences on the whole stood up the differing challenges they faced with the styles of play and windy conditions but fair play Shelley came out on top in this one. This league is all about fine margins and 1 second can change a game, today we had 2 shots of note 1 went in and 1 went wide, apart from that we offered nothing, I asked the players to be brave and that’s not just about standing up to the fight that means on the ball and what we do with it. We have a great front 4 attacking wise and ability wise but if we don’t shoot we will not put pressure on the score line and to be honest I couldn’t tell you if the Shelley Keeper is good or not as he was largely unworked. We have been very loyal to this group of players this season, I’ve not brought 1 player in as I’ve not felt the need to and still don’t feel that is necessary. The more we compete on a consistent basis and backing up 2 wins against Field and  Leeds City with wins against teams around us we will find ourselves where I think we should be and that’s certainly top 5. We’ve worked hard on the core of a good team spirit as a new group now is the time to do ourselves justice in the way we can. I still believe in this group and believe we can still finish where I think we should be come May but we need to come together again and not let setbacks and outsiders comments get us down.

Looking at the squad today you will notice a very youthful look to our bench as we welcome into the match day squad Corey Eaton and Billy Boseley-Yemm both who I have high hopes for in the coming years to join Declan Parker and Nath Owen. Thomas Smith came in to replace Jinky and Coupes was replaced by cult hero and local playboy Dale Pickering.
Hartshead a big and physically dominating team shaped up with a 4-4-2 and set their stall out straight away with a direct nature to their play looking for knockdowns off their tall forward and the speed of his strike partner. In the opening stages the centre midfield of Hartshead really set their stall out and tried to bully us with big hits on John Tunney of all people, as expected nothing much as a reaction came from Tunney but the referee clearly set his stall out with allowing a lot to go unpunished and the game free flowing.
Their threat was quite predictable but can be really effective, with cross after cross and ball after ball being put down the throat of our defence, this was been dealt with by the capable Chris Collinson and Lewis Richardson who found themselves in good positions to meet the ball and a compact unit in our defence and midfield allowed us to pick up the bits. Lee Wood fielded a lot of crosses but was strong and dominating in this and really took the pressure off of us. The first half itself wasn’t a classic and in all honesty our passing wasn’t the best but as a bare minimum we worked hard totally eradicating any threat. The issues we did have come from our own doing in giving the ball away, not communicating and possibly not treating the game as it should be.
Never the less we had our opportunities and Jamie Lister carved out the first with an unbelievable touch over his shoulder rounding the left back and collecting the ball to go 1v1 but the tight angle meant the chance wasn’t taken. We looked dangerous off set plays and corners as the opposition keeper struggled with the high ball even though he was a giant but Hartshead had their chances but nothing clear cut and we entered the changing rooms at HT 0-0 and a score line that justified the game so far. We spoke at half time about this type of team putting pressure after pressure on us defensively been direct forcing a goal in most cases.
As expected they came out with exactly the same mentality and we stood firm. John Tunney picked up a yellow after a speight of fouls went unpunished but Tunney did, Thomas Smith followed himself in the book after a soft yellow. On 65 minutes the first goal, as ever an excellent delivery by Chris Collinson found Alex Haigh who headed goal bound looping over the keeper where Thomas Smith unsure if it was hitting the target helping it home 1-0 but credit to Tommy similar to Jinky he was where a good goal scorer needs to be when needed.
They then really turned the screw and a change in personnel with Nath coming on for Dale to freshen up the left hand side as they were trying to overrun us in our defensive shape. We had a couple more opportunities without really pressuring the keeper into anything major, the main threat was the ball from them at every opportunity putting it into our half to put the pressure on. The game finished 1-0 and let’s be frank not the best game to watch, not the best game to play in but a job well done.
Everyone worked hard as a defensive unit and a clean sheet always give you a chance of winning a game. In my opinion the best team won and the more disciplined team came through, and let’s not forget that good teams are good teams because they come through games like this and good teams that end up in average positions draw or lose games like this. We lost to Hunslet in a similar sort of game so the progression and positives are again there as we continue to grow as unit in this transformational year for the 1st team. Next stop is consistency and better performances from an individual point of view as a few were off their best by some margin today. Hartshead were 21 unbeaten prior to us and im sure they will kick on and win their league to join us next year so good luck to them in their quest for that. Thomas Smith with MOM and although they didn’t get on as it was a tight affair the young boys sample a match day in the first team and how we approach games.

Today we welcome Field AFC, one of the strongest clubs in the league who have a very good recent history with league and cup success. In the reverse fixture we worked very hard to gain the 3 points with at 1-0 win with Tommy Smith the scorer on the day. The squad today has been hit with a series of injuries and doubts so we have players missing or playing with injury. Joey Ritson with a bad back and Tommy Smith away skiing means Declan Parker makes his first appearance in the squad joined by Mark Temple-Baker and Chris Brown as the Reserves game was cancelled.
Before the game I spoke at length with the lads about the last 2 games and what in particular they had done from a management point of view to lose the games and what the expectation today was as we attempted to return to winning ways despite being up against one of the league heavyweights. The focus today was on what I expect as a bare minimum and that’s work rate and our shape off the ball been a good basis for when we gain possession. The feeling I got from the warm up was a squad full of players who really wanted to change that losing feeling the last 2 weeks had brought and back to the winning ways but we were under no illusions the size of the task and the rain this week had brought a difficult playing surface for us to contend with. Field are traditionally a team with exceptional wingers, midfield who get the ball and move it forward quickly and like to make an immediate impact to hopefully grind teams down so the message to the lads was to take the physical challenge to them and move the ball a lot quicker than recent weeks. 
We kicked off and immediately played forward with James Finlayson and Scott Murgatroyd, we kept hold of possession of the ball and worked it out to the left where Murgs overlapped Chris Coupe getting the ball before flashing in a wicked cross for Matthew Gould to float the ball home form 6 yards, possibly the quickest goal of the season and inside a minute played but what a great start and a good reaction to the last 2 weeks.
We continued to work hard and we were winning the ball and moving it quickly into areas that we had established prior to the game that were going to cause the greatest problems for Field. Young Alex Haigh slotting in at Right Back today looked very comfortable under the predictable long raking balls to the wide men and throughout the first half won his personal battle against one of the best wingers in the league with Jamie Lister working very hard with his defensive discipline.
5 minutes In and Chris Coupe was on the receiving end of crunching tackle through the back of him that left him with a gash on his knee and unable to continue and to everyone’s surprise not even so much as a word with the defender who had clearly tried to make his mark on Coupes who coming into the game has been on a very good run of form himself but this brought the introduction of Cult hero Dale Pickering. From the off Dale was positive and looked like he had a point to prove, he attacked his full back and linked with Murgs well and the latter delivered a very good ball in for Jinky who could only strike it straight at the keeper from close range who made a fantastic save to keep it at 1-0. We were rarely threatened in terms of goal attempts as Woody was largely a spectator with Chris Collinson and Lewis Richardson very dominant in looking after the front 2.
Mid-way through the first half we switched off and allowed the forward to cut back inside where normally we have players squeezing to make a contact but this time we sat off and allowed a shot that was deflected slightly leaving Woody with no chance. 1-1. Prior to the game the issue of how we deal with setbacks was raised and against top teams this will happen, today was a complete contrast to the Hunslet game and all of a sudden we had 5/6 lads getting around each other and encouraging us to go again. This mentality really paid off as again with the ball at our feet we moved it quickly and 4/5 passes later starting from Alex Haigh we found Scott Murgatroyd who played a great ball through for Jamie Lister rounding the keeper and slotting home…2-1. We saw the half out creating 1 or 2 more opportunities but nothing really to ask too much of the Field keeper and limited them to crosses for Woody to collect and long range strikes.
The talk at half time was centred around the soft field and the fact we had to move the ball quickly for 90 minutes as these were a good team and would give the opportunity take a chance if we allowed them to. We predicted they would come out fast and really get into us as their manager was clearly heard in instructing this.
The second half started and again we looked like a team that had clearly a point to prove after 2 poor outings and we started to establish some good possession in some good areas dragging the Field outfit from left to right. A mix up in defence allowed James Finlayson a free 1v1 but surprisingly it wasn’t converted but with all due respect Jinky was struggling with a rib injury sustained in the first half so mobility wasn’t the best. Field began to really turn the screw but the core of our team in Colly, Lewis, Tunney & Widgey stood firm blocking shots in numbers working as units and they were well supported by the work of Dale and Ligger who put a real shift in to not allow our Full backs to become exposed.
After a Field attack we received the ball and broke with pace, a fantastic ball from Murgs released Dale Pickering who had done well to sprint 80 yards to be the furthest man forward, Dale was 1v1 and slotted home cool to get his 2nd goal of the season and what a good team goal it was…3-1 and in a great position. To their credit and to be expected Field carried on going forward trying to force the goal and the introduction of Dec Parker making his first appearance in senior football really stretched the game, young Dec ran the channel really well taking the pressure off the lads who were holding firm pulling CBs into wide areas. This resulted in a great chance as Dec was again played in by Murgs and with only the keeper to beat narrowly hit it wide with his left foot, very nearly a dream start but the chance was almost returned to Murgs a few minutes later with Dec baring down the angle and only the keeper to beat he chose to square it not quite putting enough on it that would have led to a Murgy tap in.
Nath Owen replaced the hard working Ligger with 15 to go and his impact was immediately felt as he flew by the LB passing the ball inside and a ball eventually fell to Dale but was slightly too far for him as he stuck it wide. In the dying minutes a trademark free kick from Colly found Widgey in the area who used all his excess hair to reach it and glance it into the bottom corner. 4-1 and in truth it could have been more, a top top team in Field AFC beaten and their management were very complimentary about us which is always nice to see and something I have great respect for especially from a successful club like they are. The difference today was that we were a unit and everyone played their part defensively which was our foundation and springboard to really kick on launch attacks with our players taking up good positions. Everyone fantastic and played their part from Woody making 2 sharp stops to Temps & Browny who filled out our squad allowing options if required with the Reserves game off so thank you gentlemen for that especially.
MOM today was Ligger and it’s fair to say as good as he is going forward the defensive work allowed him to look as good as he did going forward…well done mate. Murgy top class really dictating the game with his wand of a left foot, Widgey with his brace and Dale for showing the other side to his game that benefits the group. A good day for the club but we must not get carried away, consistency is the next target for this group when we face Shelley in the league in a few weeks after next week’s Cup game at home to high flying Hartshead.

This was always going to be a tough fixture in the West Riding Challenge Cup, as Ryburn had knocked out Leeds City in the previous round. Hood started well and took an early lead when Jamie Lister  lobbed the keeper from close range albeit looking from a suspiciously offside position.  Ryburn weren't fazed however, and began to dominate possession, helped, it must be said, from Hood giving the ball away rather too cheaply. Sure enough, the equaliser came, through Hood not picking up runners well enough. 
Level at the break would have been satisfactory for Hood, but when keeper Lee Wood came rushing out to block a ball out to his right he took man and ball and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.  The penalty was duly dispatched and Hood were behind at half time.
Hood pressed more in the 2md half, assisted by having the sun behind them, as they looked for an equaliser.  Ryburn were solid at the back though, and Hood found it difficult. And they were leaving themselves vulnerable to a counter attack too, and that's exactly what happened. A long ball to a Ryburn striker who simply lobbed the onrushing Wood.  Credit to Hood though, they didn't give up, they got a somewhat scrappy second goal by Joe Ritson and had a couple of decent chances to save the game, but Ryburn hung on 'til the end. Overall, Ryburn shaded it and just deserved the win but Hood played their part in a good cup tie and go out with their heads held high.

Hunslet come to us on the back of some patchy form, and us on the back of a good result at Farsley the week before. Hanging over the game was the result at their place 7-4 in Hunslet favour which I would have hoped give us that extra motivation. The game started in true derby fashion as they flew into tackles but in response so did we, the referee could quite clearly see the way the game was going to shape up on a difficult surface from the recent heavy rainfall.
In the opening 10 minutes a great through ball from Scott Murgatroyd played in James Finlayson 1v1 with the keeper but the shot was placed narrowly wide, a positive start and exactly what we spoke about prior to the game in moving the ball quick. On 15 minutes Jamie Lister picked up the ball 30 yards out skipped by his man and curled a shot onto the bar leaving the Keeper stranded but the rebound couldn’t be put in as the Hunslet defence scrambled to recover well. 2 minutes later a carbon copy situation but this time Jamie Lister just placed the ball narrowly over.
At the other end a direct Hunslet had a threat of their own and form a free kick headed onto the bar themselves, the warning signs were there and mid-way through the first half they began to build pressure from the wide areas throwing ball after ball into the box. We saw out the half without really causing further problems and Hunslet themselves been limited to chances so HT 0-0
We spoke about their threat and I said to the lads that what we have just encountered is what they have in their locker and as long as we compete we can expose them with our own attacking threat, but with the pitch rapidly cutting up the more of a war it becomes is the more suited to their style. We started the second half on the back foot as they pumped the ball to build pressure in our half and after a few minutes we found ourselves 1 down. In a shot come cross on the far post an Hunslet player stood on the back post was on hand to tap home, hands went in the air and remarkably the linesman adjudged the Hunslet player to everyone’s amazement onside and Danny Bridges playing him on who by all accounts was not even our last man. You normally get a feel if it was right or not despite my own opinions from the dugout from the players reactions and everyone felt he was off. Regardless these things happen we found ourselves 1-0 and to be completely fair decision apart they had built the pressure and it always tells. 
Rather than dust ourselves down as we have in recent months and react positive we were totally out of character starting to moan about not getting the ball, arguing between each other and trying to start confrontation with the opposition, this is not us and not what we are good at we will never be successful this way and the 2nd goal dually come shortly after as the forward found 10 yards of space nobody attempted to close the ball allowing a free shot at goal that found the bottom corner and in all honesty the shot should have been saved too to really rub salt in the wound…very sloppy 2-0 
Changes were made when Jinky was forced off after a calf injury and skipper Browny with hamstring trouble. This seemed to spark us into life as Matthew Gould made is impact known driving us forward.. 1 or 2 half chances later we had built pressure winning a corner and a great delivery from Chris Collinson Found Joey Ritson who headed home on 85 minutes. We then changed shape as we tried to force a n equaliser and in the dying minutes Joey found himself 1v1 but the keeper made a great smothering save to secure the win.
The game finished and Hunslet deserved the win, they played the conditions really well and played us really well and were good value for their win so congratulations to them on the season double over us which hurts but in sport credit where credit is due. After the game everyone was down but we turned it into a war on a soft pitch, we didn’t attempt to play the style we have for the last few months and we got drawn into the long ball resulting in everyone moaning about what was happening. You can accept losing to the better team doing everything we can to try and win but to turn out that sort of performance as a group is not acceptable too many individuals blaming others not graphting for the team when I think a look closer to home may be in order because after all that I will scrutinise myself and decisions I make as every manager does win or lose so the same from you players please.

Quarter Final day of the Leeds & District Cup and we travelled to Bradford to face a strong Farsley Celtic team who had so far this season gone unbeaten and picked up some scalps along the way with Hunslet Club probably the biggest. I drew comparison from the Alwoodley game in the County Cup as they are from the same league but probably better as a rounded team so I knew if we were to win especially away from home it was going to be difficult. The team today was unchanged from what I would have selected for the previous weeks postponement, so Alex Haigh came in for Matthew Gould and Scott Murgatroyd in for Thomas Smith with Dale Pickering away this week on a romantic weekend. We spoke about the work we had done in training and a specific way of defending which after 2 weeks without game time the lads were keen to put into practice as well as imposing ourselves early doors so they couldn’t settle on their own field which was very soft and cut up.
The game started and we did exactly that, Joe Ritson smashing through the striker in a clean but solid challenge really setting the tone, it put us on the front foot and we were winning the first and second ball every single time. After 8 minutes good pressure from Alex Haigh, John Tunney and Jamie Lister forced Farsley sideways where the alert Chris Coupe pressed pinching the ball and rolling great through ball in for Scott Murgatroyd who as ever in the 1v1 situation slotted home no bother… a great start and everybody was in to celebrate a good goal. Usually in this situation a team would normally sit back then establish the possession …not us we were instantly on the front foot, Chris Collinson was seeing a lot of the ball on the right hand side and his interplay with Jamie Lister was causing a real problem for the left back. Colly threaded ball after ball into Ligger's feet, in beyond, the forward's feet and into our Midfield showing great variety but more importantly moving the ball quick and not giving easy possession away.
After 15 minutes we had a series of Corner Kicks and despite them been a tall athletic side we were causing no end of trouble with Chris Collinson putting in some great deliveries, one of which after a tame header out found Joe Ritson who’s side winding volley into the top left was something of which a forward would have been happy with..2-0 and a real goal of the season contender. It didn’t stop there though Chris Coupe continued to look sharp on the left running at pace at his man beating him every time, Coupes is really beginning to show his quality now and after 2 years away from football its now clear to see that fitness and sharpness is really back and as a team we are seeing the rewards. James Finlayson and Scott Murgatroyd to their credit were pulling the defenders into areas they didn’t want to be in and today both were getting and giving the ball quickly which allowed others to join in and run beyond.
On 25 minutes another corner kick into the box from Chris Collinson fell to James Finlayson who in what can be only described (in his words) as an inverted Scorpion kick into the goal after the keeper had failed to deal with the initial corner. 3-0 and despite player appeals form our players of an own goal, Jinky said in a truthful manner that it was his goal and Jinky doesn’t lie. To Farsley’s credit they really stepped it up and because of good work from John Tunney and Alex Haigh they were forced to go long from the full backs and holding midfielder, the quick wingers and strong Centre Forward caused our back 4 to really concentrate on the task in hand with credit going to them for dealing with all the attacks. After a 5 minute lull where in fairness we had earned that right to have a rest we pushed on again and a free kick from James Finlayson narrowly missed the target and that seemed to get us going again. Jamie Lister on the right was afforded the time and space to attack the Left back and with the a cynical foul the left midfield body checked Ligger 30 yards out. Chris Collinson stepped up again to put an inch perfect ball into the area for Joe Ritson to meet first an powerfully head home. 4-0 …..35minutes gone.
We saw out the half with attack after attack and winning the ball back straight away, as the HT whistle went me and Parks reflected on what was probably the most complete 45 minutes of football we had produced all season. At HT we spoke about how we had scored 4 and if we switched off for a second they could easily score 4 themselves so we had to not get complacent go out and really push on and hammer the result home enjoying the moment.
As the referee blew his whistle Farsley came out stronger and continued to be direct with their play but this time getting bodies around for the second balls, and only 2 minutes into the half a seemingly simple ball to deal with rolled and possibly due to the surface under Joey for the dangerous Farsley forward to latch on and place home past Lee Wood in goal. 4-1 and a real eye opener. The next 10 minutes we had to soak up a lot of possession and at times it did get scrappy as we lost our edge, but to Farsley's credit the have strengths they use well and put us under pressure. On 55 minutes we started to gain hold of the ball again and play in their half, James Finlayson picked up the ball near the corner flag and delivered a great cross into the box that found Jamie Lister who as ever found the back of the net and in fact the side netting to make it 5-1.
Tommy Smith came on for James Finlayson to freshen up the attack and give the defenders something to think about with Tommy's pace in behind. Chris Coupe who was having a great game set up an opportunity of another corner and it was met by Lewis Richardson who bullet header was kept out on the line. Chris Collinson had an opportunity from a free kick that was superbly stopped by the Farsley Keeper and pushed wide. 
On 60 minutes Danny Bridges picked up the ball and pressed forward with it and played a delightful through ball which was very pleasing on the eye for Murgs to run onto, rounding the keeper who attempted to bring him down and place home 6-1…  Nath Owen came on a young player who is really learning the game and its defensive responsibilities onto the right to replace Jamie Lister and made a great impact turning the left back at every opportunity and retaining possession of the ball. Naths defensive shape was really tested when John Tunney was hacked down in the centre of the field and with no subs left was forced to play up front as Murgs filled in for him in the middle of midfield. To everyone’s surprise though Tunney became a player in the mould of a young Alan Shearer, holding the ball up, a threat in behind, and a bit of a really was a good day!
With 8 minutes remaining Joey rounded off his hat trick with a delicately flighted ball over Woody.s head into his own goal. 6-2..and in all seriousness a little disappointing but the game finished and we were through to the next round. We spoke after of how proud we were of this groups achievement and 6-2 did reflect how well we were and it is by no way means Farsley were poor, because they weren’t, they were a strong outfit and a team who can score goals and would do well in our league but on the day it was us that were superb. The challenge for the group is the pressure I place on this team in not accepting standing still and always trying to better our performances every time we step out.  We face Beeston St Anthony’s at Bracken Edge in the semi-final 1 step away from a final at Elland Road, are we destined to come just short or can we really justify our progress and beat one of the West Yorkshire League's big hitters? I believe we can because in my opinion we are one of the top teams ourselves but we can only show this by performing week in week out. Well done boys

The first game of 2017 for my ever improving Robin Hood Athletic team after a 4 week period of no competitive football, and it comes in stern opposition from Alwoodley form the Yorkshire Amateur league in the last 16 of the WR Challenge Cup. For a bit of background into Alwoodley they are one of the strongest teams in that particular league and are looking to joining the West Yorkshire League Pyramid and on today’s showing they would not look out of place in our Premier Division. The team today was similar to our last game before the break with Chris Coupe this week returning in place of Dale Pickering who formed part of an incredibly strong bench with Alex Haigh, Nath Owen, Scott Murgatroyd and Alex Cottrell. We spoke about the threat they would pose as they were tall and athletic, so discipline and not giving any needless set pieces away would be key for us as fitness and longevity of performances in a game I would back us against anyone on that count.
Typically we started cautiously establishing our shape and not giving them too much space to work with behind us or in-between our defence and midfield. Early on we found good possession in the wide areas moving them from left to right as the 2 front men Thomas Smith and James Finlayson carried on their good form, occupied the defence well and highlighted mobility and speed issues that we could exploit. In the opening 20 minutes chances were very much limited as the teams looked to work each other out but after a swift move down the left a ball from Danny Bridges found Thomas Smith 30 yards out and a seeing the keeper off of his line he had a pot shot only for it to sail wide. The Alwoodley midfield were strong and competitive as they looked to dominate the central area, John Tunney and Matthew Gould though provided and justified the their selection by going toe to toe with them which encouraged the other 9 to possess that same determination and we established the physical advantage despite the lack of size. The best opportunity came from Chris Collinson who fired a Free Kick in swinging to the back post narrowly missing Joe Ritson and the post.
Danny Bridges on the stand side was seeing a lot of the ball and Chris Coupe kept his width well which after 30 minutes allowed Bridges to cut inside and strike the ball at goal that struck the post hit the keeper's head and narrowly go wide. That gave Alwoodley the kick up the arse they needed and they responded with through ball after through ball trying to test the resilience of our back 4 which I would like to say dealt with everything well and kept it simple until 35 minutes in; a Danny Bridges slip set their pacey forward off down their left pulling Lewis out and the Alwoodley forward. played a great ball across the goal just out of reach of his partner who toed it wide. This gave us the kick up the arse as well to really expand our play and be more positive with the ball and down the right hand side Jamie Lister really started to make his mark by coming off the wing often opening space for Chris Collinson to get up and down in trademark style. It was a move started by Woody at the back with quick distribution which involved both midfield players and with neat interplay a good run off the ball from Tommy allowed Ligger the space after a clever flick from Jinky to strike from 20 yards out but it was unsuccessful. Ligger before the end of the half again found his range and was shooting on site putting the keeper under pressure but to no avail. Alwoodley could have had the last say of the half when they from a long throw flicked it to the back post but the alert Danny Bridges was on hand to head clear from under the bar.
At Half time we spoke about staying patient and relying on our quality to shine through as long as we worked harder off and on the ball as them and really making our mark ability wise as we would be stronger than them the longer the game went on. The first 10 minutes of the second half couldn’t have gone any worse in all honesty we lost Matthew Gould to injury and from an attacking corner a shot from the edge of the box was blocked by the ref for the Alwoodley player to pick up the ball and drive 2v2 eventually passing the ball 30 yards out and his partner up front hit a shot beating Lee Wood in the process. 0-1 and everything we had spoken about at half time was not happening, we were quiet, we were getting bullied and we were off the pace and all credit to Alwoodley in that respect. Alex Haigh, Widgeys replacement by this time had adapted to the pace of the game and was making some real telling inroads with his forward movement finding space with his youthful energy, this seemed to give us a bit of impetus again and real threat as we were forcing them backwards. A clever ball through on the edge of the box found Ligger on the angle 1v1 but the keeper made a good solid block but it was a chance we should maybe have taken and had me thinking was this going to be one of them days.
The next 15 minutes was really the definition of a cup tie as we spilled forward wave after wave, sometimes with quality and sometimes without that little bit needed but the signs were good as we tested the Alwoodley resolve. Again to their credit they gave us as good as they got and tested Lewis and Joey at the back who’s understanding seems to get better week after week with each other. With 20 minutes to play we swapped Tommy who had worked his rocks off for Murgs who returned from injury today looking to exploit the gaps that were now opening up, and within minutes of been on the field Scott Murgatroyd forced a good save from their keeper with a strong curling effort from 18 yards…the danger was there. 80 minutes had past and just as we were about to put Dale on we broke after an Alwoodley attack and Ligger was set free down the right, he delivered a pin point low driven cross that beat the defence and keeper for our top scorer James Finlayson to lunge home from 5 yards…a top draw ball in and good finish for Jinky who is always there when we need him. 1-1 everyone’s happy.
On the 85th Minute with John Tunney down with Christmas Cramp Jinky picked up the ball just inside of their half and played a terrific ball through for Murgs who as ever showed that ability and calmness that highlights his class to slot by the on rushing keeper 2-1 ..everyone at this point is going mad and even Widgey ran down the touchline Jose style. John Tunney was replaced by Dale as we reshaped and looked to see out the victory and as we entered the 3rd minute of the 3 additional minutes Jinky was through 1v1 only to make a mess of the opportunity to put the game to bed. . . typically in football as it happens we were made to pay as the ball was bounced around our box and in amongst all of this fell to an unmarked Alwoodley player at the back post to pass home 2-2. hearts broken and to be honest 6 minutes played of the 3 we were fuming as well as gutted. With no extra time the game went to spot kicks:
1. Ligger – Goal   Alwoodley – Goal 
2. Colly – Miss   Alwoodley – Goal 
3. Jinky – Goal   Alwoodley – Saved (bottom left corner)
4. Coupes – Goal   Alwoodley – Goal 
5. Murgs – Goal   Alwoodley - Saved (Lee Wood with a great save down to his right)
In the end a very good result despite the best efforts of the referee to make the game about him, and credit to both teams for the way they dealt with that and continued to play the game in the right spirit. Nothing much in the game in all honesty as both teams were quite tight and had their chances, I did feel we probably edged it fitness wise and having that extra bit of ability and 1-0 or 2-1 might have been a true reflection but that may be me beinf biased.  All in all a good blow out for the first game back and a win on penalties has a funny way of bringing the team together that bit more, but we will have to improve going into the next few games if we are to continue our good form as there were plenty of things we can improve on. MOM – Lee Wood, well done big man Thanks to everyone who stayed and watched the game from the Ressies after your training session.

After a great end to the league year we faced a Nostell Miners Welfare littered with young talent in the League Cup 2nd round as attempted to finish 2016 on an high. Chris Coupe dropped out of the squad for today’s game who’s place on the left was filled by Dale Pickering and Nath Owen coming with the 1st team today, with the experienced Matthew Gouldcoming in for Alex Haigh an Tommy Smith taking the place of Scott Murgatroyd who dropped to the bench. Plenty of changes but equally quality is replacing quality something I am very proud to have at my disposal as the competition for starting shirts really continue to bring the best out of each and every player. Prior to Kick off Parksy Clause came into the changing room with a stocking full of hampers and cards for the lads, I’m not going to lie & credit where credit is due Dave off his own back sorted this on behalf of the management. It seemed to go down well in the changing room with smiles everywhere….that is after all what Christmas is all about.
To the game itself: Nostell MW sit mid table in Division 2 so on paper it looked like a pretty straight forward fixture where our ability would hopefully do the talking and the result would take care of itself …or so it seemed. In the opening 10 minutes it was quite apparent that this Nostell side had been really fired up for the game and were matching us for work rate winning the ball back and trying to force the play. Unfortunately for them our defensive duo of Joe Ritson and Lewis Richardson were on top form, competing well with a very big target man and covering each other with great awareness. With our trump card been that extra bit of ability on the ball it wasn’t long before we really started to control the game in terms of possession as we worked the ball well between the lines as our movement off the ball was superb as Tommy Smith's pace caused numerous problems in behind the back 4.
We were using our full backs in Danny Bridges an Chris Collinson to the maximum as they continually set our forward movements going allowing the space for Matthew Gould to really step into forward positions and look dangerous. On 15 minutes great work involving Pickering and Gould gave Smith the opportunity to get a shot on target only for the goal bound shot to take a deflection and flying agonisingly wide. Dale then seemed to pick up the pace driving at the right back beating him with ease time after time and on 25 minutes Dale beat 2 only try that extra touch and closed down whilst shooting. The goal threat of Joe Ritson was evident a again as he headed on target after great work initially from Jamie Lister and Chris Collinson who looked strong down the right.
The breakthrough came through towards the end of the half after a sustained period of possession without a great amount of shots going in at the keeper to back up all the possession we had prior to the goal. Tommy Smith eventually found the goal expertly after a great win by Danny Bridges in the air, Matthew Gould played a fantastic ball for the on rushing Tommy who slotted home comfortably to make it 1-0… a goal Tommy deserved after all his work. Prior to half time we had 2 minutes off it thinking that was it and job done as the Nostell Forward got in behind the defence only to hit the post. 1-0 HT We spoke about moving the ball quicker and reducing the space from front to back which would restrict the time and space on the ball for the 2 Nostell Centre midfielders which would also help Widgey and Tunney who were covering a great deal of ground in the process. 
We started quick this time and instantly put the Nostell team on the back foot as they dropped deeper and deeper in the process allowing Ligger and Dale to really starting showing their class as they glided by players creating opportunities for Jinky and Tommy who both got shots away, some troubled the keeper some troubled the birds in the trees but either way I never knock any player getting shots off at goal after good build up. A great 1-2 between Dale and James Finlayson allowed space for a shot come cross for Dale where as ever Ligger was at the back post ready to tap home from a couple of yards. A great team goal and that bit of class becoming more apparent now we had worn them down.
5 minutes later Tommy Smith was expertly played in for another duel with the keeper and again he came out on top smashing the ball home 3-0 !!! We then really stepped it up driving forward at every opportunity really asking questions of Nostell and to their credit doing well in soaking bits up and by this point Nath Owen on his return to the team was showing the ability he possesses and even carving out an opportunity to score but instead he took his shot early and blazed over. Murgs on the touchline wasn’t risked as he was carrying injury made his mark as James Finlayson went through 1v1 on the angle shouting ‘miss’ and after he hit the side netting shouting ‘yesss’…great friendship shown. Jinky in true fashion made his mark on the game as he added another to his growing tally of goals with a well taken finish from range flying by the keeper to make it 4-0 only to Murgs disappointment.  We finished the game comfortably with the exception of Mr Wood's attempt at a scorpion kick on his own 6 yard box much to the touchlines disbelief with the steam coming out of my ears probably giving off a clue in my thoughts to it. That apart Wood had a good game making a brave 1v1 save and looking solid under the high ball.
A safe passage to the next round as we dominated the game but to Nostell's credit they really contained us by sitting back and not allowing us to get a clear shot away. They have some great young players and I’m sure in time they will progress through to the first team but that aside some great performances from the Hood boys. Mom today was Tommy Smith who again shows why I rate him so highly scoring 2 goals.. highlighting the strength and depth of my squad. Widgey absolutely class on his return to the team a real driving force in the midfield and Ligger10 who as ever has such a good impact on the game.
We enter the new year 7th in the league 12 points off last season’s total points and in all 3 cups…. its really down to us as a group to not settle for this as been acceptable and pushing on again testing the limits and create a bit of success at the business end of the season. A personal thank you to all at the club behind the scenes who have made me feel welcome and to the players for your efforts and hard work on the field, it’s been a positive first 5 month with our record from September 1st when in my opinion we turned a corner as played 15 won 12 drawn 1 lost 2 .. same again for the next 5 month …….hard work pays off.

We travelled today to Brighouse to play the fantastically named Shelf United in the County Cup who provided unknown opposition for Robin Hood. The playing surface today was that of a very very poor Sunday league pub team and that’s me been very generous, it wasn’t going to be any sort of footballing spectacle and if I’m honest myself and Parks were more concerned about getting through to the next round without any incident.  The team was largely unchanged apart from Chris Collinson replacing the departed Curtis Aston and after the birth of his baby boy Lee Wood coming back for the impressive Alex Cottrell.
We started the game with a minute's silence and moment of remembrance for Rose, Rose was a lady who served the club well and was often found in the tea room at Hood even after the passing of her husband who himself served the club as it was formed and began to develop. Individuals like this are few and far between and give their time for nothing, taking pride into something they value and to that its individuals like Rose who will be sadly missed. I never knew Rose as I’m new to the club and she fell ill before then but many at the club did and along with the collection we had as a first team this gave her the recognition she deserves.
Prior to the game we spoke about moving the ball quickly, looking after our touch but keeping it very basic picking up where we left off last week at Wetherby and that we did. It was quickly apparent the quicker we moved the ball the less mobile side in Shelf would struggle to get the ball back and after 1.30 my glamorous but intoxicated assistant predicted victory if we didn’t drop to their level. 
Chris Coupe and Jamie Lister were picking up a lot of the ball in a lot of space allowing them to run at their opponents and to be fair beating them time after time. It wasn’t long before our first chance as Ligger stepped in from the wing to strike over the bar, this was a sign of things to come. Shelf to their credit had a dangerous front 2 and their tactic of lumping the ball up to them I can imagine would cause problems for many teams but our CB pairing of Joe Ritson and Lewis Richardson are in good form and were reading the game really well mopping up any danger. The outlet every single time was the ball out wide as Shelf didn’t keep their shape very well allowing Colly and Bridges to start many attacks for us and on 10 minutes a ball from Colly into James Finlayson who took a tremendous first touch turning his CB in the process and striking an unstoppable shot from 30 yards into the top corner. 1-0 and a great piece of individual skill from Jinky.
5 minutes later we got a free kick on the half way and for once we didn’t play quick and allowed Danny Bridges to send in a great ball into a good area only for it not to be cleared with Jinky slicing a shot into the path of Scott Murgatroyd 2-0 well on top. This was the end of a game played in the correct spirit, shortly after putting the ball out in our own corner allowing a Shelf player to receive treatment Alex Haigh was hit late and as he stayed down the Shelf players continued to play on ..not in the spirit of the game. Alex had to be replaced by this late tackle so enter Matthew Gould who picked up where Alex left off.
The first half wasn’t very pretty with loose passes loose touches and Colly taking an unchallenged Klinsman but we had many shots a few on target and a few flying over but nothing to really put pressure on the score line. Shelf themselves had a couple of attempts restricted to distance but not testing the returning Lee Wood. HT 2-0 The discussion at half time was centred around us working harder than them then falling back on the gulf of quality we possessed in comparison but more importantly as they were now trying to kick us up in the air at any given opportunity just to move the ball quicker.
Again to their credit Shelf started bright and for the next 10-15 minutes had us on the back foot without any threat at goal as Woody dealt with the long range efforts with ease but once we got our shape back and looked less disjointed we started taking control of the game again. We created the chances after that quite regular and even John Tunney was hitting rasping shots ON TARGET, the best opportunity of the second half on around the 60 minute mark was through Matthew Gould who latched onto a great through ball (not floated) by Murgs rounded the keeper and then just fell over t everybody’s enjoyment. The introduction of Tommy Smith added an option beyond the defence and he almost latched onto 3 or 4 good through balls. Dale Pickering as ever jumped out of an 80/20 in his favour when all he had to do was slot it home, but to his credit he ran at pace by 3 players and Scott Murgs just before he got assaulted was baring down on goal 1v1 but managed to chip it into the keepers arms in another chance missed.
It was safe to say we had the chances to win by a few more than we got but the final ball or shot was missing until Jamie Lister in the 89th minute slotted home on the angle as the game finished 3-0. A win was all we wanted and as the field was a leveller the performance wasn’t really an issue but our fitness and ability took over for large parts and we can be very happy with our efforts all round. Despite the overly physical efforts by Shelf who seemed intent on injuring our lads we stuck to the task with a sense of maturity, John Tunney in midfield been our star man and in a game like this he was picking up all the bits, with Danny Bridges and Colly joint second in the voting signals where our attacks started.

First of all Congratulations to goalkeeper Lee Wood who’s the latest member of the club to become a dad. This opened up the opportunity for Alex Cotterll who has been training hard building up his fitness and coming off a MOM in the Reserves a few weeks ago to come in and showcase his talent in the first team environment. Also missing was Chris Collinson who was at a wedding so Danny Bridges slotted in at right back and Chris Coupe coming in for Dale on the Left hand side of midfield with Thomas Smith and Matthew Gould returning to the squad.
The game started as they lined up with a 4-5-1 changing to a 4-3-3 in attack with us getting hold of the ball and been positive with our first touch and putting them on the back foot and in the opening minute Chris Coupe got the ball and beat his man with ease putting us in a decent area of the field to get shots at goal off. 5 minutes into the game and after beating the right back 3 or 4 times Coupes had forced a substitution as the RB went off injured, maybe finding him cold and not warmed up but this was a sign of things to come as the group looked very positive today and sharp which probably be attributed to the players been reminded of their responsibility and standard expected prior to the start of the game.
For the next 20 minutes Wetherby had a lot of possession to their credit without really challenging us in terms of been a goal threat as a local lad playing for them (Arron Horton) dropped into dangerous areas in-between the defence and midfield linking the play. Up until 20 minutes this was quite effective as Alex Haigh and John Tunney worked out between themselves the danger that was offered, a few trademark stinging tackles later he was found dropping deeper and deeper to our benefit allowing us to really stamp our authority in the centre of the park. We started to created chances and they came with our forwards really testing the speed and agility of the defenders moving them into areas they didn’t want to be in, creating space for our wide players to move into. Without talking over every missed opportunity as we did create a fair few the front 4 of Coupes Lister Finlayson and Murgatroyd were linking up tremendously and in all honestly how they should with the ability they have. On 25 minutes though a ball was swept out to Jamie Lister who was allowed to be able to bring it back inside due to the fantastic overlap by Danny Bridges and he took on 3 people to finally strike an unstoppable strike into the far top corner ..1-0.
We created a few great chances but their keeper held the strikes and the ones he didn’t he or his defence were quick to react to clear danger and we ended the half very positive and clearly on top. We closed out the half and the lads to their credit had moved the ball great with pace and energy off the ball looking very comfortable in the process. HT 1-0
The second half started in a similar style to the first where we held the advantage in the initial stages but Wetherby to their credit really stepped up and began to get hold of the ball and make our defensive organisation really concentrate and to our credit all were exceptional in terms of information, volume and application. Again 20 minutes passed without us really having a clear cut chance with the ones we did were from distances that were not going to trouble the keeper too much until a fantastic ‘floated’ ball over the top for Murgs to run on and bare down on goal only for the defender to bring him down. There was a sense from the Wetherby contingent that the penalty was harsh but in fairness the defender has run into the back of Murgs stopping him from shooting and in my opinion as well as the match officials it was a definite penalty. Jinky stepped up and smashed it down the middle.. 2-0.
This created one way traffic and with the impressive Coupes departing for Dale Pickering who continued where Coupes left off as he began a move that ended with Ligger 1v1 only for it to be ballooned over from 6 yards (A bobble was suggested). On the 70th minute Jinky was superbly found in behind the defence on the right hand side ad he cut in on the angle 1v1 unselfishly passing the ball to great mate Murgs who had a tap in at the back post but the keeper amazingly got across to make a remarkable save. Shortly after the next effort on goal which resulted in an head against the bar Dale superbly cut in from the left playing a great through ball for Ligger to cut in and this time finish well. 3-0. The game finished and we had won in what was a comfortable victory, that can be defined by the fact we had not 1 shot on target against us in the game. This stat wasn’t down to us been the dominant team because as stated above they had spells of good possession we just worked incredibly hard off the ball. When we are that good off the ball I don’t believe there is a team in the league that we wouldn’t compete with as the ability on the ball is up there with the best. We just need that belief that we can consistently do it game in game out.
Some big calls today selection wise and you all backed it up in performance with the 3 lads from the bench making a tremendous impact on the game. Ligger MOM and the goals on camera for all to see but special mention to Alex Cottrell making his debut today on short notice performing brilliantly.  Well done all. On one final note we say goodbye to Curtis Aston who now goes on his travels with his other half. All the best mate you’re a top bloke and we look forward to your safe return.

A response week this week as we faced St Nicholas who beat Leeds City in the first round, so a potential banana skin if we played anything like last week’s effort. St Nicholas would offer the same test as Hunslet in being a direct team fully of physicality so we really did need to match that. The squad today was changed with Matthew Gould serving a suspension for 5 yellow cards and Tommy Smith a late withdrawal through illness which meant Jack Fisher returned at late notice. Lewis Richardson came in at the back for Danny Bridges as we shuffled Chris Collinson out to Right Back and Alex Haigh came into the heart of midfield alongside John Tunney. Nothing much was said before the game but we highlighted the importance of matching them work rate wise and letting our footballing ability do the talking.
The game started and as predicted they were in our face trying to stop us from playing the ball. In all honesty the first 20 mins were not much of a footballing spectacle as basic errors and casual attitudes were turning over possession in their favour but we continued to offer threat at a keeper who was determined to stay warm by wearing a Beany. On the 25 minute mark we moved the ball on the heavy playing surface well between Colly Jamie Lister and James Finlayson with the latter playing in an excellent ball across the face of goal finding Scott Murgatroyd at the back post as he slotted home with power from a tight angle…good goal in fairness 1-0. The rest of the half saw us create chance after chance, some on target without really testing the keeper and many were blazed high and wide or low and wide. Just before half time we created a very good chance for top scorer Finlayson who struck a ball straight at the keeper and the ball somehow stayed out in a the confusion afterwards. HT 1-0… On the face of it possession wise we should have converted a few of our chances but that was the positive we were creating a lot. Parks sporting his new look covered the aspect of the game where we were slow and sloppy which needed addressing.
2nd half we started as we finished and in control of the game without having the finishing touch. Jack Fisher replaced Jinky on 50 minutes as we looked to protect him after recent injury worries through the week and to give jack some much needed game time as a central forward which is his favoured position. St Nicholas had a 10 minute spell where they offered us difficulty hitting the post and then slotting home shortly after….1-1 and we were up against it. A pleasing response saw us score from a Dale Pickering corner with Joey Ritson again scoring with his head and in front of his boy celebrating his first birthday…. 2-1.
Chris Coupe came on to see 35 minutes of action for Dale and immediately made an impression with a succession of positive runs down the left put them on the back foot and scrambling. On the 60 minute mark the St Nicholas Captain stamped quite clearly on young Alex after the ball had gone and that gave us a bit of a reaction and a bit more purpose. Young Alex to his credit smashed back into the midfielder with a solid tackle to show what he was all about and growing in stature game after game and in amongst all the physicality the Captain tipped a through ball which gave us a penalty. Ligger stood up and stroked the ball home (on its 3rd bounce)
Murgs shortly after sent every one of their team for a pasty as he dropped shoulder and fired the ball home from 30 yards. 4-1 and a safe passage to the next round on the potential banana skin game. We must improve for Wetherby next week as again we weren’t the best and were sloppy in large parts but a win is a win in a cup game and we responded to the result last week against another physical team. We now await our ¼ final opponents as we look to really push on in this trophy. Alex Haigh voted MOM.. a very steady game on his return and out of the group his high energy levels probably got him the votes this week, well done mate.

I won’t write too much about this game, let’s just say it was a game for a complete Neutral.  I fielded a very strong squad with 4 named on the bench with Jack Fisher dropping to the Reserves to gain some game time as he had spent a few games on my bench. We spoke about what they will offer… they will be noisy, physical and will work as hard as any team we will face to achieve the 3 points.
The game started and as predicted they went quite direct and to be fair our full backs were tested by 2 quick wingers who were themselves direct in how they wanted to attack and go forward. We had an early chance when a step over from James Finlayson let in Scott Murgatroyd who’s shot was well saved by the home keeper. From then on we were a joke… we lacked any motivation, walked around at times, we blamed each other and in total summary we were bullied and intimidated and offered nothing back. We conceded 3 terrible goals and scored one ourselves though Murgs who slotted home in the only time we tried to play a bit. 3-1 HT.
Words were said. We began the second half and for 10 minutes we looked back to our usual selves, we competed and we had energy about us, and no surprise we scored 2 goals as we used our wide men to create space. 3-3 back in the game and they looked fragile and looked like a team that were not at our level ability wise, until they scored a 4th on the break -  great save off Murgs from the keeper resulted in them going up the other end and scoring another soft goal…. 4-3 and we looked deflated. They scored another 2 to make it 6 before we replied through a long range effort from Curtis Aston. A late goal made it 7 from their sub.
A complete embarrassment of a performance not fit for Sunday league. We said before the game work rate beats ability if ability doesn’t work hard enough and today that was the case. Everyone needs to have a long hard look at themselves in regards to what they offer the team as today wasn’t acceptable, it’s easy to sit in groups and discuss who’s NOT done what and what the team should be, I'd suggest look a bit closer to home…. I put 11 people out there today all fell well below the level I accept.. that includes turning up hungover.

West Yorkshire Challenge Cup day against Goole United in the 2nd round as we look to progress to the round of 32. Goole United who sit pretty in their respective league (Humber Premier) which is renowned for been a strong competitive league with 6 wins 2 draws and 2 losses, are one of the title favourites so we envisaged a strong test from a free scoring side. Lee Wood returned to the side today as Matty Smith was now unavailable due to work as he now looks cement the position as his own with Alex Haigh back in the Squad as we boosted a strong 16 man squad. The 16 at my disposal are a very strong bunch with also 4/5 in the Reserves who had previously played in the 1st team this season so as you can imagine only performances will keep you in this team, but with that headache comes satisfaction because as a club we are now in a position of strength personnel and competition wise.
We started cagey as both teams worked each other out trying to establish some sort of territory, and in fairness Goole played the opening 5/10 minutes in our half without really posing a threat but still played in our half. We got through to the 20 minute point where we started to establish dominance with Curtis Aston and Dale Pickering really dominating the left hand side causing problems for the right back as they continued to double up, and on the 22nd minute mark Curtis played an early ball into Dale who was isolated with the RB breezing by him and squaring the ball across goal for Jamie Lister to tap in at the back post 1-0.
Shortly after Scott Murgatroyd was played in by Curtis 1v1 and rounded the keeper but then got brought down in the act of tapping the ball home, the tackle itself which completely missed the ball meant Murgs hit the post but the referee waved play on much to my displeasure and the linesman got the brunt of my opinion. Whilst I was still in the process of trying to think why he would adjudge that to be no penalty Curtis again played an early ball in to Dale turning excellently playing the overlapping Aston who drilled a low shot on the angle past the Goole United keeper - no chance to save it and 2-0.. we started to really look comfortable.
A couple of minutes after the KO Goole threatened with 2 set pieces and asked real questions with the deliveries but were dealt with well by Joey Ritson and Chris Collinson who are looking very solid in recent weeks. A rare chance in open play materialised though on the half hour mark with a through ball for the top scorer in the Humber Premier looking to latch onto, but Woody showed great awareness and rushed off his line beating him to the ball.  In the 33rd minute Jamie Lister played a great inside ball into James Finlayson turning onto his left foot 25 yards out hitting the top corner in the process 3-0 and a great goal from Pre season's top goal scorer.
Up until this point the front 2 of Murgs and Jinky looked very lively causing problem after problem with their movement and as a team without really been sharp we were comfortable, but signs of the old habits were creeping back in casual on the ball no real leaders taking control making sure we pushed on and didn’t settle and we conceded a very sloppy goal to give them a sniff. On the 38th minute the dangerous no 11 received the ball who turned Danny Bridges far too easy to come inside and to be fair rattle the ball into the far top corner leaving Wood no chance..3-1 and our shape as a defensive unit for the first time in 4 games looked ragged.
On the 42nd minute Goole pulled a second goal back with an absolute joke of a goal, but i'll leave it there as I’m sure the Local Banter group has taken control of that. Poor Woody! On a serious note though that right there summed up the first half in terms of our attitude ..very casual!! And to be completely blunt teams like Beeston, Carlton, Field and Leeds City when they establish the dominance they don’t sit back and just see the game off they really look to punish teams and that’s why in the last round Field scored 15 and last week in the league Carlton got 10… that's the next level for us and where we need to aspire to be. HT 3-2.
Let’s say we addressed it with my own personal views of standards and then some positive reinforcement from Mr Parker. It seemed to have some impact for the opening of the 2nd half as we really stepped it up for a 15 minute spell and on the 50th minute Jinky was played in 1v1 and he slotted home like a seasoned semi pro footballer making it 4-2. Matthew Gould and John Tunney then like last week began to come into their own dictating the play and dominating the midfield and a floated ball from Gould for a 3rd week found Jinky again 1v1 with goalkeeper who rushed out for Jinky to round him and slot into an empty goal to complete his Hat-Trick. 5-2…effectively game over.
A double change followed with Alex who was forced into action to replace Tunney and Tommy Smith replacing local hero Jinky who came off to make his goal tally 4 goals in the last 9. The change was designed to maintain the freshness and keep the level of football and tempo High, and that certainly happened as Alex looked like he hadn’t been away at all and Tommy despite a quiet week last week looking back to his lively best. The ball down the side was clearly causing issues and Jamie Lister with Scott Murgs were running rings around the left back with their sharp movement. On the 65th Minute Danny Bridges was replaced by Lewis Richardson who returned after his ban to get some minutes back on the field and didn’t look like he had been away, and in his defence Lewis was one of the shining lights out of a disappointing start to the season and until his ban was a show in. We have looked solid in the meantime whilst he was out and in turn he now has to await his opportunity and to his credit his attitude has been spot on and continues to train hard and show why he is the captain in Chris Brown's absence.
In the 70th minute Dale delivered a great in swinging corner that was glanced onto Alex who at the back post headed home ..6-2. For the last 20 minutes we saw a lot of the ball and again threatened the goal without adding to the tally until the 85 minute where Colly back in at RB played a ball in behind where Murgs took a great touch and squared the ball for Tommy Smith to fire into the roof of the net..7-2 and that was the game. From the score line it seems like on the surface a very good win and whilst yes it was, as I spoke about before we could have hit double figures and that’s what we need to be doing as we were far too casual at times. Getting the mentality of being a winner trying to push the limits at all times and not accepting a standard performance is what as a group we need to address. We have everything to be a top team it just needs to come together at the same time week in week out!! Never the less that been said 7 goals against a top Humber Premier team is a massive positive and there were solid performances all round but the left hand side for us today really stood out in Curtis and Dale. Dale having a really good game especially and WELL DONE for completing 90 minutes. MOM though was Jinky who scored a goal by his calculations on an average of every 20 minutes today and with Murgs looked good and dangerous.  Hunslet Club next week in a local derby on a good run of form themselves not losing in over a month….there is the challenge. UTH

After last week's impressive victory away at Field we welcomed Leeds City a real top footballing team and one of the title favourites. Personnel-wise returning from his Holiday was Jamie Lister and Chris Coupe after a long lay off with a torn hamstring building up his fitness. Lewis Richardson returned to the squad after the a ban with Nath Owen going with the Reserves team today along with Lee Wood who deputised brilliantly for Matty Smith who now plays his last game due to work before Woody returns.
As predicted Leeds had a lot of possession in the opening 10 minutes without really creating a chance. Our defensive shape at Robin Hood leaves us looking organised and tight with no space to play through us. We did on occasion get forward but there was little movement and we gave away some cheap possession. Thomas Smith latched on to a Scott Murgatroyd through ball and once again showcased his speed and directness shooting from the edge of the box across goal narrowly wide. We then sat back and allowed Leeds to dictate the game settling into proceedings and a simple run around on the right flank with men not followed created an overload allowing a shot from 30 yards that wasn't pushed away far enough with the Leeds City players first to react squaring the ball for a simple tap in. 0-1,
Despite a bright start we found ourselves lacklustre, no presence and ambling through the game and on 30 minutes we nearly paid the price. A great free kick found the Leeds City forward who headed back across goal for what looked like a certain goal only for Matty Smith to tip the ball over. Making up for a sloppy first goal and highlighting the impact he has in our recent run. The half finished 0-1 as we continued with our lacklustre performance and seemingly going through the motions.
At half time harsh words we spoke and levels we had reached previously not even been threatened today. I asked for a reaction and for us to show that same drive and determination that allows our ability to flourish. The second half started and for the first 20 minutes it was much of the same. Leeds possession but with no end product as Chris Collinson again dominated the defensive line with Joey Ritson looking solid too. Changes were made and Jamie Lister replaced Dale Pickering and Jack Fisher who came on for Tommy Smith pushing Murgs up front. This seemed to spark us into life with Lister instantly involved getting at the full back at every opportunity. This also sprung Matthew Gould and John Tunney into action, who started to pick every loose ball up and start playing with purpose.
On 75 minutes Gould who collected a pass after a spell of possession to again float a ball through the defence for Jamie Lister who beat the keeper to the ball to slide it home 1-1!! This seemed to give us the attitude of we can win now and we got forward at every opportunity as they were really on the rocks. Just as the game looked like ending 1-1, Lister was played in down the line by Gould who crossed the ball low and pacey for James Finlayson to get his toe in and beat the keeper. 2-1 and everyone's going mad!! Even Dave Parks showed a little emotion and broke into a smile. The game finished and we were on the other side of what we faced against Horbury and Pool. We speak about what we can achieve and consistent performances is that next level for this squad its the difference from a 4th and above placed finish to a 12th below. We need to aspire to that level because we have that ability we just need that mental approach every week now. We deserved the result today. Matty was tested twice all game despite their quality but we turned it up a gear when we needed it. That's what we are all about. MOM today was Curtis Aston who before the game stated he wants to be the new captain!! Excellent from Curtis today though who had taken information on board and gone out and turned in a performance... Well done mate! 

A very tough fixture for our ever evolving squad today away at past WYPD champions Field FC. A squad well drilled and well established in this league, always in the top 3 and pushing for the league with an experienced core. Returning from his mid season break was James Finlayson with Dale Pickering being allowed to play by his other half and Jay Davis coming into the squad as Lee Wood took the gloves. Jamie Lister suspended with Lewis Richardson and Matty Smith away. Brian Mcilear switched sports and became running back for the LA Rams so as you can see again many changes to my delight! Preparation was focused on how we went about our work as a unit doing the ugly side of the game for the team's benefit rather than individual gain.
The game started and as expected they went very direct with the big striker a focal point laying the ball off for second and third man runs, you can instantly see how this is successful as Field would frustrate teams and have success off an error. Joey Ritson and Chris Collinson who was skipper for the game organised and very intelligently managed this form of attack by keeping it simple and being dominant physically. The first 20 minutes as predicted saw Field have a lot of possession but had no real chances, they got frustrated and reverted to the direct style they know. Once we soaked up this and stayed patient we broke with pace causing problems isolating the centre backs, Tommy Smith's direct style and pace worked well with Jinky looking after the ball allowing us to join in with the attack.
On the 30 min mark good play by Scott Murgatroyd played the ball to Matt Gould who floated a ball over the defence for Tommy to latch on and lift the ball over the advancing keeper ... 1-0 great finish and we've shocked them but hard work gets rewards. Shortly after the restart Tommy was again through on goal but the keeper managed to get a hand to the ball as he attempted to round him but Tommy recovered to square the ball for Dale Pickering who looked like he would make it 2 but he blazed over somehow.. Chance missed. The rest of the half we worked incredibly hard off the ball to launch attacks when we won the ball back and for all Field's possession Woody wasn't tested once only the odd collected cross was his work.. HT 1-0 up.
At half time again we concentrated on our shape off the ball as this was key to us winning the game but really stressed the importance of trying to get a second. Field typically got a towelling and started fast and attempted to put us under pressure but our core today was strong, Joey and Colly were mirrored by Widgey and John Tunney who all worked hard in keeping the centre well occupied and dominated the space. The full backs and wide men stuck to their task and did the ugly work tucking in leaving no space for Field to play with.
Once we weathered the storm we opened up and created chances. Curtis Aston had a rasping volley blocked that was goalbound as did Dale. Murgs pulled the ball back for Tommy who drilled a low effort straight at the defender who's last ditch effort again stopped a possible 2nd goal. Tommy's day was done on 65mins as we swapped like for like and Jack Fisher entered the fray. Jack made an instant impact and delivered a pin point cross to Jinky who looked like a simple head would make it 2.. Only for the keeper to somehow turn the ball onto the post. A good save but another missed chance. Dale who's legs had given in on him was replaced by Jay Davis and now had to match the hard work Dale had set. Jay instantly had an impact travelling at pace causing problems for the back peddling defence, played an intelligent ball into Jack who turned and curled the ball that was destined for the top bin. Again though the keeper pulled off an amazing save tipping the ball on to the crossbar.
Widgey who played like he had the heart of a lion called for a change as he couldn't breathe.. To then run 60 yards into the corner to put pressure on the ball.. So we put Nath Owen on for Jinky who was now sweating WKD Blue. Nath played deeper just in front of Widgey and Tunney occupying the deep laying midfielder. With 10 minutes to go a free kick 25 yards out was absolutely drilled onto the bar with a touch from Woody... A great save to be fair as it came at some pace. Their first shot on target. With 1 min to play like Horbury at home they got another free kick and what was probably going to be their last clear opportunity the free kick hit the wall and we cleared our lines. The game finished and we were well deserving victors.
Today our work off the ball was incredible, at this level of football you have to have some tactical awareness to be successful you can't just turn up and play. We again stepped up a level and beat a team with hopes of winning the league. 1 to 17 we were better and the team spirit and togetherness is now allowing our ability to flourish, me and Parks couldn't be happier for you as players but the challenge is now to reproduce the same week after week. John Tunney best player out there had his brush out again as he swept up any attack winning MOM. Colly followed in the votes but for me everyone deserved credit for what was a great team victory. Well done same again next week

It was Leeds & District Cup weekend and the carrot been dangled at the club was that the final will be held at Elland Road home of ‘Super Leeds’ as we welcomed Stanningley Old Boys to the Coach ground. The game itself was overshadowed by the tragic loss of former Hood player Skot Howey earlier in the week, as a club we marked this with a minute's silence and all wearing black armbands as a mark of respect for our former player and for many at the club a friend.
The squad today again was disrupted by unavailability with Dale Pickering, Joey Ritson and James Finlayson away. So coming in were Nath Owen, Jack Fisher and club Captain Chris Brown who doubled up as Bob Bradley and assisted me in Dave Parker’s absence. Stanningley despite struggling in their respective league had a great win against Campion last week in the WR County Cup so were looking at another upset and certainly started fast trying to catch us on the hop. John Tunney and Matt Gould looking to establish their partnership set about closing down their opposite numbers, not allowing them to dictate the play, restricting them to long balls which our defence dealt with quite comfortably. In the 8th minute though an easy ball was miskicked by Lewis Richardson allowing a 1v1 with Matthew Smith…Smithy who has brought a real stability to our defensive structure saved well and kept the score at 0-0. From then on it was just a case of staying patient and not getting bored of possession waiting for the right opportunity to get a shot off or create an opening, Danny Bridges who today started on the left hand side of midfield looked lively with his movement and Jamie Lister as ever mirroring it on the other side.
On the 20 minute mark Scott Murgatroyd, who previously in the game had dropped and turned running at the defence started to dictate and pull the defender into area he didn’t want to be, popping the ball off which was eventually recycled to Danny Bridges who whipped in a ball to the back post that sailed into the top corner. 1-0 and to be honest we deserved it and our patience paying off. Shortly after a realisation that the back four for Stanningley had little to zero pace we stated to slide balls in behind and this came to a head on the 25th minute where Tommy Smith who was looking lively latched on and finished powerfully in a 1v1 situation to make it 2-0. To be honest at this point avoiding a massive collapse we were never going to lose as man for man we were head and shoulders above ability wise and on the 35 minute mark a clever ball from Curtis Aston at left back through for Ligger saw him go beyond the chasing centre back and around the keeper without even touching the ball ‘strictly style’ and this week putting it in the empty goal. 3-0…game has been put to bed by this point. We went through the motions up until the half time whistle playing well within ourselves but totally controlling the game.
At half time we spoke about the importance of the clean sheet but this time pushing on and getting a few more goals unlike the Old Cents cup game and continuing to be positive, so we began on the front foot by making them defend deep. Without going overboard the second half was very tame and flat there was a sense of we’ve won this game we don’t need to do much else which was disappointing but the only people who can change that is the players on the field. Saying that I’ve been part of teams that when you’re playing against a team not as good it’s easy to go through the motions. The best thing that happened for us was a young lad coming on in midfield for them who looked lively which meant we had to step it up again and that we did. Murgs continued his consistent good work by getting hold of the ball and testing the keeper and threatening the goal at every opportunity and in the process giving Tommy Smith another 1v1 with only the keeper to beat, as the keeper slipped and seemingly an easy goal Tommy took pity and gave him an opportunity to smother the ball.
Jack Fisher replaced Bridges who had worked incredibly hard on the left and Nathan Owen coming on for Widgey with protection for the league game next week in mind (also with a bit of Browny's influence). In the closing 20 minutes we created good openings without having that killer instinct in front of goal until a great cross to the back stick found Jack Fisher 18 yards out who volleyed the ball home in what was a great finish on the 80th minute mark. The game finished 4-0 and we went back into the changing room knowing it was a comfortable victory against a team we were better than but a team who at times tested us. We played well within ourselves like I said which was a missed opportunity to really go out and stick plenty of goals in and set down a real marker in the cup, but as we all know 1-0, 4-0 or 10-0 it’s the same outcome a pathway to the next round and a step closer to our goal. We will have to step it up another level next week but against top opposition and I know we will. MOM today was Tunney who edged Murgs but both had great games, one in the thick of the action possession wise showing class and Tunney giving us that base and platform to attack from, he’s showing his value to the side making us a different opposition and adding a real back bone.

After a good result in the cup last week we welcomed Horbury to the Coach Ground looking to avenge the 4-2 defeat in an early Wednesday night fixture. That  squad on that particular evening for 45 minutes gave an unacceptable display before turning that around and competing in the second half. I can quite confidently say that we are a different team now and a total different proposition in terms of how we play, our attitude towards the game and most importantly we are getting to know each other as a squad now. I’ve had private discussions with my Assistant Dave Parker and a few of our players that as a new squad it may take us until Christmas initially to be judged properly, but we continue to seek consistency. Today we welcomed back Jamie Lister to the squad with young Curtis Aston named on the bench on his return with John Tunney making his first start since the Beeston game early on in the season.
Today’s squad was arguably the strongest I’ve had since my arrival and in the opening exchanges of the game we stood up to their physicality and direct approach, absorbing a lot of their attack. Lewis Richardson and Joey Ritson at centre back are now forming a real understanding with each other and whist Lewis started maybe slightly below the standard he has set for himself he certainly isn’t overhauled by any physical challenge, with Joey first to everything whether in the air or on the floor. Tunney and Matthew Gould set about our intentions by getting a lot of the ball and keeping the ball moving, trying to establish dominance in possession and they looked stronger than their opposite numbers.
The first half was one of little chances in way of both teams as the game became something more accustomed to poker, but like I’ve said we are learning and developing nicely with the key ingredient of patience now in our ranks and we came in at half time happy with the 0-0 score line knowing we could now step it up, but they potentially had shown us their hand. It wasn’t completely action less though as Alex Haigh who today started out wide had an opportunity to make it 1-0 as the ball dropped over his shoulder 6 yard out only  to swing and miss.. Another chance was with James Finlayson who, when given the ball early to feet turned and got off a shot that was well directed but lacked the power to slip by the keeper, but the positives were there.
At half time we talked about getting the ball forward quicker into our forwards' feet so they could use the clear ability they have to link and test the Horbury keeper and more importantly, movement off the ball so we weren’t easy to defend against. We started the 2nd half with great intent and a great ball through from Scott Murgatroyd found Alex coming in from the right 1v1 only for the keeper to make  the save….a real chance and one we maybe should have taken. The ball was now moving quicker and Jinky, Murgs and Dale Pickering began to get the ball in good areas asking questions of the Horbury defence, this was good to see and was giving us that sense that we could really push on and get a goal or 2 today. Unfortunately as is sometimes our downfall we conceded a very avoidable goal on our behalf, A long ball from the Horbury right back beat Richardson who was quite away under the ball letting the Horbury forward bare down on goal, only to square it for his strike partner who put the ball back where it came from giving Smith in goal no chance. 0-1 and a real disappointment as it appeared we let ourselves down again.
Shortly afterwards the Horbury front man tried to clip the ball over Smithy in goal from all on 35 yards, fortunately it hit the bar and we were let off but that was that in terms of threat. Again like I have said we are a different team now and have grown into a resilient bunch, as we made 2 substitutes - Dale coming off for Curtis and Tunney who was excellent making way for Ligger as we shuffled to pack in search of an equaliser. We made an instant impact with Ligger getting the ball forward on the right and sliding a great ball between the  defenders to find the ever energetic Murgs who won a corner. Collinson delivered the ball into a great area and the impressive Joey Ritson continued his habit of finding the net with a great header from 10yards 1-1. We had a real spring in our step and the usually unmoved Parks even raised his glasses and said ‘I fancy us to get a second’ and we did that… another great delivery from Colly was this time cleared to Curtis ‘I’m not a pirate’ Aston on the half way line near the home dug out, we gave him the nudge to put the ball back into the box and in true fashion a great deliver eluded everyone, missing Murgs by a whisker to sail straight in to the back of the net. 2-1 !!!! what an impact and it’s what we deserved with patience shown by the lads.
Shortly after Colly hit the bar with a trademark free kick and numerous attempts on goal flew close to making it 3. With 10 minutes remaining and now down to 10 men the Horbury Town centre back headed onto his own post with the rebounding to Jamie Lister who hit the bar from a couple of yards out, it was our chance to kill the game and in Ligger's defence the ball did sit up but he knows that should go in.
Typically as football continues to do so it came back and bit us in the short and curlies - Horbury continued to their credit to put the ball into an area that asked us questions and won a free kick 25 yards out as Widgey brought down the Horbury front man. He stepped up himself to drill the ball at goal only to take a huge deflection and wrong foot the helpless Smith in goal. 2-2, 89th minute and disappointment was clear to see.  The game finished and in all honesty its usually a good point against a team that will challenge the top 4 come the end of the season but felt like a loss as we deserved an hell of a lot more in a game.
I felt we edged with our attacking intent and variety. The lads were clearly disappointed with the finish but its small margins in this league that define outcomes and we must be at the positive end of these from now on. Parks highlighted our missed opportunities and I have to agree with that as well as maybe sometimes learning to close out a game, but as I said at the beginning the progress we have made makes us unrecognisable from the team in August and early September and in the coming month we will learn more about this group as we face 2 heavyweights in Field & Leeds City. We are not far off been a real top team and the margins for that are so small. Keep up the  hard work we will get what we deserve ultimately and I believe that success.  

This game looked easy on paper, but cup shocks are never too far away, so it pays not to be complacent.  No danger of that today.  Hood were in control from the start.  They were given space and time by Old Cents, and took full advantage, Dale Pickering and Jack Fisher using the wings well with James Finlayson and Scott Murgatroyd through the centre.  Hood took the lead early on and never looked back, and they were 4-0 up by the half hour mark.  It was all one way traffic and could have been more than four if the final ball or shot had been better. Hood were dominant in midfield and comfortable at the back, indeed Matty Smith in goal didn't have a save to make in the first half.
When Hood made it 5 early in the second half, the crowd were taking bets on double figures, but Hood eased off with the game safe, made some changes and Old Cents actually started to make a game of it and only a smart save by Smith kept them out near the end. Overall though a comfortable passage through to the next round with no sniff of banana skins, well done guys.

No match report.

A difficult away trip to Brighouse who themselves are scrapping for points at the wrong end of the table, but looking at the goals For column they have the ability to score plenty. Again for a second week we were missing 11 players I consider have the ability to play for any Premier Division team. This goes to show the strength we have and when all fit/available and it will be those who train the hardest and produce on the field who get the starting shirts. 
n today’s squad was Chris Collinson who came in at right back Dale Pickering who came in on the right, Lewis Richardson who came in at centre back as Joey Ritson moved into partner Alex Haigh in midfield with Danny Bridges back from Cricket duties. Long grass and a small(ish) field suggested that free flowing football wasn’t going to be the way today, but more importantly the way we started again would ultimately define how the game goes on. In the early exchanges it was very clear how Brighouse set up and play with the experienced number 4 grabbing the ball deep and ploughing the ball forward. The balls he played were that of quality may I had which in the opening 5 minutes caught the back 4 on the hop a few times miss judging headers and finding themselves out of position leading to the 2 front quick men to latch on to the ball, in truth the long grass didn’t help them move with pace. On the 7 minute mark we got a free kick 30 yards out and Jay Davis drilled a ball low but with the long grass no real momentum on the strike which eventually came to nothing. 2 minutes later we got a free kick 35 yards out near the right hand touch line, Colly stood over it and as ever delivered an excellent ball which was met by Joey Ritson who glanced it into the goal and in truth was against the run of play but the delivery in and the finish were both excellent. 1-0 Hood.
In the next 10 minutes we wasted a lot of possession drilling the ball long and not really making things difficult for Brighouse, we didn’t get the ball to Scott Murgatroyd and James Finlayson feet enough and in turn handing over too much possession meant that they got the ball pumped it into good areas which left our back 4 scrambling. Up until the 30 minute mark with our back 4 not dealing with the initial ball too well we did scramble back and get blocks off and force Brighouse to miss the target on the occasions they threatened, and in honesty they could have had 3 or 4  on another day so fair to say we were well off the pace of the game. Murgs threatened with a rasping volley from 25 yards which is probably still travelling now such was the pace of it and shortly after missing the target again with another good long range effort. In total we got the ball down 3 times and played it to Jinky's feet and Murgs creating an opportunity each time, this highlights our potential when we play quick and with tempo.
We saw the half out without conceding somehow and this was partly down to Matty Smith now in his 3rd consecutive game looking for his 3rd clean sheet pulling off an unbelievable save from close range and in the process confirming no more children as it hit him with some force. After some strong words - yes the conditions weren’t the best with the sun in the eyes of the players and the grass slowing us down, we didn’t stop the long ball at source and we didn’t as a defence deal with the long ball well looking out of sync and not playing as a unit. After our recent games and performances we were well off it, but never the less 1-0 up ..that’s the positive.
We started much the same as the first half on the back foot with the an onslaught of long balls putting us under pressure but the back four had started to take responsibility and defend as a unit talking and concentrating on the positional play required at this level of football. Young Alex became more influential and started putting pressure on the ball before it was delivered long, this made the game more open as we were then allowed more possession of the ball in their half leading to half chances at goal. When they did get forward on 2 occasions they hit the woodwork once with the head off a great ball in and the other from a snap shot but both were dealt with in the second phase.
Tactical changes followed with Jack Fisher coming on for Dale and Bridges coming on for Jay to give us fresh legs out wide as they had both worked hard off the ball on a day that was not really made for wingers. Bridges and Jack made an immediate impact though, they kept possession and the ball was played simple which got Murgs and Jinky into the game and over the course of the last 30 minutes both Jinky and Murgs had some great chances to put the game to bed but for their keeper to pull off some very solid saves to keep them in with a chance. Murgs did on the back of some good build up play volley the ball home from 25 yards out to make it 2-0 which made us more comfortable but Murgs did deserve it after some close efforts from range in the first half. They continued to push the ball forward but this made the game open and Jack had a great chance but the keeper saved well down to his left. Murgs at the very end was played in from Jinky with only the keeper to beat but it was easily saved for them to go up the other end 10 seconds later and with another long ball the forward lifted it over Smithy to make it 2-1. This was too late though as the game came to an end.
A good 3 points on reflection at a difficult place to go, we didn’t play well by an stretch we lacked voices and the group ethic we have had over the last few weeks but that been said at the beginning of the season we would have lost that game. We scrapped and covered mistakes with good recovery’s from team mates we dug in and got the result. The pleasing thing result aside was the amount of chances created for Murgs and Jinky, they will go in on other days and football sometimes is like this you can’t always play the best but what you can do is dig in and get a result when it could quite easily go the other way. I’m pleased for the lads they deserve this and now are on a 3 game winning run which will fill us with confidence going forward.
On a separate note well done to the Reserves who now climb to the top of their league, there’s a good buzz at the moment and with the missing players from tier squad and mine we have completion all over so training becomes important and when you get the chance performing. Today’s MOM Joey Ritson class act anywhere I put him closely followed in the votes by Colly. Well done everyone

After last week’s game and despite me not posting a match report, I am hopeful we will get the points and the result at the time will stand despite us probably scoring more so in our own minds that’s a win and a clean sheet. On to Today… 11 players injured/holiday or suspended to my delight, so to the first In-season signing to add to my squad in Jay Davis who came straight into my starting line-up. I’ve heard good reviews of Jay and I have seen him play once or twice before so was very happy going into the game. Scott Murgatroyd came back in and joining the squad for the day were Paul Mitchell and Brian Mcilear who have performed well in the reserve team's early season success, along with Jack Fisher who as a young talented player deserved his time to come into the squad. Mark Temple also came back into the team following an impressive 19 seconds the week before!  In total 6 changes to the starting 11 with 2 changes to the bench which highlighted the difficulty we faced to get a result against a team who are very organised winning or losing only by the odd goal.
The game started and let’s just say we didn’t touch the ball for the first 2 minutes; they popped us off the park which was slightly worrying until Temple put in a decent hit which shook them a bit and we then established a fair bit of possession and played, more importantly with this possession in their half. Jay Davis set out his intent for the afternoon by getting the ball and driving at the full back getting him back peddling with Jamie Lister on  the other side doing the same, causing no end of problems and establishing a dominance in our play. Ilkley were dangerous from some early set-pieces but a committed group of players defended these at all costs getting good distances on clearances lead by the impressive Joey Ritson and Brian Mcilear. The only moments within the first half they looked like creating anything was when they were allowed to build from that back as they were quite sharp with the  ball at the feet. But we stopped this with James Finlayson and Murgatroyd forcing them to go long by pressing the centre backs, lumping it to the lone man where Joey and Bri marshalled him well with the shield of Temple.
Mid-way through Jinky tricked the offside trap and was through on goal and despite a covering defender getting back Jinky unleashed a strike at goal for the defender to handle the ball stopping a ‘certain’ goal. Penalty!! Jinky stepped up as he previously has and struck the ball with power pace and great direction only for the keeper to somehow make the save!! A missed opportunity but in all fairness and seriousness it was a top save and a lifeline for them. Not long after Jinky found himself in space out wide and delivered a great ball in for Murgs to beat the keeper with a toe for it to somehow slide wide of the goal…how it didn’t go in was hard to believe. Towards the end of the half a great delivery into the box from Davis fell just behind Joey Ritson and he couldn’t direct it on target. HT 0-0.
The second half started the same as the first but without the 2 minutes of popping the ball around for them, we looked continually dangerous in the shape of Jinky and Murgs, Davis and Lister whilst a disciplined Temps allowing young Alex Haigh to use his energy and get on the ball and this followed suit for the next 15 minutes until another good delivery from Davis from a corner kick was helped on by Joey, superbly saved then dropped to a Robin Hood shirt for a tap in - but the keeper got up well and saved the snatch shot superbly. This gave the team that bit of confidence needed to get us over the line and from another great delivery from Davis from a corner kick, Bri  headed home 1-0 !!!
This gave us even more confidence and we pushed and pushed for the 2nd goal with the introduction of Jack Fisher on for Ligger who broke his wrist in the 1st minute but yet carried on.  Fisher almost scored with his first touch but for a slip at the far post just missing the target. Murgs had a pot shot from 30 yards causing problems for the goal keeper but it’s such a positive to see us drive forward at every opportunity and ask the question of the opposition. It was one way traffic until the last minute where a looping header that was bound for the top corner was brilliantly saved by Matty Smith, who for large parts was untroubled only having to collect crosses, ensuring his second clean sheet on the bounce since his return to the team. The game ended 1-0 and to be honest we deserved probably a few more but we will always take the 1-0 with the number of changes made.
The back five with 3 changes in there all performed excellent and as asked did a job this week whilst we had people missing, the shape and communication was spot on and Joey Ritson controlled that brilliantly. Specially mention to all the boys who came in and ensured that there was little disruption to the squad and slotted in, buying into how we work as a team. I asked the squad to play a little more direct today and they followed suit accordingly which is satisfying for me and Dave as everyone is responding and the performances on the whole throughout the season justify my thoughts on what a great club we have. That’s 2 wins (effectively) on the bounce and I'm confident with the quality returning we will put together a good run of form, that is down to our attitudes and how we approach games working hard and cutting out the mistakes… WELL DONE ALL !!!!!

This game was abandoned after 62 minutes when a fourth Oxenhope player was sent off. Hood were leading 4-0 at the time, and it is now up to the West Yorkshire League to decide what action to take.  It is worth noting that the fourth sending off was a deliberate act by Oxenhope to force an abandonment.

UPDATE 12/12/16:  The WY League have confirmed that the result will stand.

Another midweek fixture, this time away at a strong Horbury side headed by an old mate in Micky Long.   Typically we spoke about the importance about starting strong this time with a re-shape for us with Scott Murgatroyd up alongside James Finlayson, and typically after a positive 10 minute spell where we got the ball into areas where we could be dominant we concede an early goal - this time by playing a silly short ball from a goal kick and Curtis Aston not been sharp enough with his clearance, resulting in it been closed down and the ball dropping to the dangerous Lamin Bojan who slotted home 1-0 down … standard start. Ryan Bailey(injured)  was replaced by Danny Bridges who was having a day off from cricket and slotted in at Right Back. Horbury in fairness were quicker, they moved the ball with greater tempo & conviction whilst movement was sharp off the ball and intern we attacked nothing we showed very little in terms of aggression and purpose. In the rare positive points of the first half young Alex Haigh who again looked beyond his years compared to his senior team mates headed narrowly over twice from corners and was pulled down by the goalkeeper after he had an initial shot saved but no penalty to our amazement. Jamie Lister on the right wing when given the ball looked dangerous going forward creating a couple of half chances but to no avail as Murgs looked lively up front for us as he was seeing a bit more of the ball today.
Half way through the first half after the Horbury quite fortunately kept the ball in following an hand ball shout worked the ball well down the right and played it across for a tap in at the back post. 2-0 and we deserved it to be honest. Thankfully that 45 was over and only 2-0.  A few home truths were given out, nothing tactically we looked weak we looked like we had no energy we looked to blame everyone but ourselves it was up to us to get out of the blip in form the ability is there it needs to be matched by hard work.
We started the 2nd half exactly how I expected and offered an instant threat with Jinky and Murgs getting a lot better ball and able to turn the defence around with 3 through balls just slightly out of the reach of Jinky and Murgs. A good start never the less and the midfield pairing of Alex and Matthew Gould showing aggression and getting a grip of the game for us using the ball quickly an getting the ball forward. We got a free kick 29 yards out for a cynical foul, Jinky stepped up and placed the ball into the side netting …2-1 back in the game and well deserved on reflection of how the half started. 60 seconds late 3-1 down, a questionable call from the linesman who judged the ball in play ended up with a diagonal ball dropping for the Horbury midfielder to pass the ball past Sanderson in goal. Disaster!!! Horbury after a bit of a yo-yo 10 minutes as the game became end to end finished a good move to make it 4-1…game over
To our credit for the final 30 minutes we put Horbury under great pressure and created 3-4 great opportunities saved or hit wide by some good interplay. Jamie Lister played a good ball forward from the wing that was cushioned by Jinky into the path of Murgs who slotted home 4-2 and Murgs on reflection deserved it after positive link up between him and Jinky. Early in the second half Coupe came on at Right Back and Tommy Smith on the left of midfield that gave us a little bit of freshness and directness. As we went into the last 15 it got dark to say the least and Ligger missed a great opportunity at the back post to head home as well as been a little too honest when getting chopped down and staying on his feet in the box. The game finished 4-2 Horbury.
We are now in a 3 game slump and that’s not good enough for a club of our size and player ability - yes we are a new group getting to know each other but the first half was not acceptable the goals we concede are not acceptable and work rate as a unit not acceptable. 11 of our 16 goals conceded are down to individual mistakes cut them out and we are flying. It’s important that despite my last sentence we stay positive, it’s important to know what isn’t acceptable and react.  The 2nd half of this game we did and once we cut out the mistakes and continue to be positive and aggressive we have the makings of a real good team. We are not far off and we will finish well in this league and have cup runs but we stay positive and we continue to work hard that is the base of what I expect as the manager and 2nd half we have seen this. Its Oxenhope at the weekend who in a similar position to us will look to gather points. Let’s kick start our season Gents.

We headed into the game with a squad capable of getting all 3 points on offer and really putting down a marker for the upcoming run of games we should all feel are winnable. A shuffled pack as Collinson came in for the missing Ryan Bailey and Jamie Lister came in for Chris Coupe whilst Alex Haigh came in midfield as I moved Joey Ritson to the back for the injured Chris Brown.
The game started and as spoke about pre-match we started aggressively and controlled the opening 10 minutes. Alex Haigh and Matthew Gould moving the ball quickly and with good tempo meant that Scott Murgatroyd and Dale Pickering were seeing a lot of the ball, resulting in a couple of shots by James Finlayson but only straight at the keeper. It was one way traffic with the visitors playing long through balls which were dealt with well by the back four, until the 12th minute when the visitors found themselves in-between the lines of midfield and attack threading a ball through for the quick forward to round Sanderson and slot home 1-0 down!! This was a massive disappointment due to the positive and aggressive start we made and reflects the small margins in this league.
We started again and the instruction was stay positive and continue in the same vein we started the game with and we did that, Alex Haigh continued to impress getting about the field on the ball dictating our play and forward movement. Colly really got himself in the game as the game developed overlapping and putting dangerous balls into the areas forcing the defence to clear facing their own goal and forced corner after corner. On approximately 20 minutes Curtis Aston delivered a deep corner that landed at Colly's feet who struck the ball goal bound that was handled by the Headingley defender …penalty!  Finlayson stepped up and after a long delay converted it well.  1-1 and we were more than good value for that. We pushed on once again looking for the second goal and shot after shot rained in at the keeper, admittedly not all the greatest but it was a show of our intention. On the 30 minute mark Colly delivered another great cross beating everyone for Finlayson at the back post with a free header, but it wasn’t a clean connection and a great chance goes begging. Murgatroyd caused problems on the left whilst stretching the play with cross field ball showing great game management whilst our back 4 swept up the through balls comfortably. On the 36th minute a harmless ball down the line was not dealt with in the first phase resulting in Lewis Richardson having to defend a half empty goal but bringing down the visiting attacker, penalty this time to Headingley which was converted into the bottom right 2-1 down and a clear smash and grab but again we attribute to our own downfall.
We spoke at half time about continuing a with the same intensity and desire to create chances but this time we needed to score 2 to get 3 points. In the opening 10 minutes we had 5 shots on target as we tested their keeper who palmed them out, again another positive start and great intentions we just needed that goal to really justify our play. Headingley to their credit soaked up a lot of pressure and when getting the ball forward they forced some good half chances but without any problem for Sando in goal. On the 65th minute they broke forward after another Robin Hood attack and cut the ball back to the edge of the box only for the Headingley midfielder to surprisingly miss the target. Let off!!! To the lads' credit we worked hard, huffing and puffing trying to force a goal that would in all honesty probably seen us go on and win the game if we did but it didn’t appear to come as we approached the final 10 minutes.
On the 70th minute mark though Curtis found himself in the area with a shot on target resulting in a likely goal but he missed the target, another opportunity missed. Murgatroyd flashed a great volley just wide and Finlayson had a header float just wide, as we went to a 3-4-3 to force a goal. Tommy Smith looked lively shooting just wide and Murgs had an header agonisingly float wide of the far post. It just wasn’t our game and the game finished 2-1 Headingley.
We could have played until Monday and probably not scored, just one of those days where conceding avoidable goals cost us and not taking our chances like wise. What should be noted though was how well we went forward with the ball looking dangerous and on another day we'd score 5 or 6. It’s hard to take but that’s the reality of the football at times but again I see everything I need to in this group to know once we get on a role we will be very hard to beat. We stay positive and go to Horbury on Wednesday, another difficult place but one we should look to come away with points. 5 games gone and we’ve not really been outplayed apart from ragged 15 minute spells here and there but we only have 4 points..needs to improve but I have every confidence in this group. Let’s stay positive as a club because we can be a force going forward this season and achieve our targets. Chris Collinson MOM

Hood welcomed neighbours and league leaders Carlton Athletic to the Coach Ground knowing that they would need a top performance to get a result.  Unfortunately, the first 10 minutes of the game could hardly have been worse! Carlton with early pressure scored twice as Hood looked all at sea defensively.  However a well taken free kick at the other end from Dale Pickering halved the deficit and gave Hood some much needed belief and confidence.  The game was pretty even from then on with Carlton having more play but Hood looking more solid at the back and dangerous on the counter attack although in all honesty not really troubling the Carlton keeper.  Ten minutes before the break, Hood's task became more difficult as they were reduced to ten men.  Matthew Gould with a strong tackle that the Carlton player retaliated to, there was some pushing and strong words and the referee booked the Carlton player and sent Gould off.  This seemed rather unfair to most as both players were equally responsible and should have been treated equally.
Hood started the second half well, looking for the equaliser but couldn't find a way through an organised Carlton defence but when Carlton broke away and scored a third goal it effectively ended the game as a contest.  Hood didn't give up, they kept on battling, but were tiring as the game went on and it was no real surprise when Carlton grabbed a fourth goal near the end.
Losing 4-1 at home looks a bad result, but in the circumstances it could have been much worse and Hood did a decent job of damage limitation.  But let's not be too negative - its early in the season and Hood have played the top two sides in the league in their opening four games.  There's plenty to play for yet!

A typical trip to Oxenhope …takes forever to get there, is always wet and windy (whatever time of year) & greeted by the smallest playing surface going - all of this resulting what seems the inevitable ‘A real hard place to get a result‘.
The squad for this game was again depleted by unavailability of regular members Widgey (unavailable), Colly, Woody (Injured), Ligger, Tunney (holiday) with Murgs to my delight declaring himself available on Friday evening. Never the less, the squad itself remained strong as I have a quality 19/20 people at my disposal who have completed preseason with me - the real problem will come for myself and Dave when we have everyone available. Today Scott Sanderson made his first start of the season replacing the injured Lee Wood and Mark Temple came in to add steal to the midfield to combat the predicted physical battle. Other changes were Chris Coupe coming in for Ligger and Curtis Aston for Tunny.
We set about our task pressing from the first whistle, attacking against the driving wind and rain forcing Oxenhope to go long as much as we could possibly make them. Ball after ball ran through to Sanderson in goal and we built our attacks around the usual short sharp passing, Yes a few passes went astray, yes our first touches initially weren’t the greatest but we continued to force the play and dictate the game using our own style. Chris Coupe back in the team looked strong with sharp passing and movement getting beyond his full back with Dale Pickering on the other side doing the same and creating much needed space for Scott Murgatroyd and James Finlayson in the middle to get hold of the ball. Despite plenty of possession in and around the box we struggled to find space to strike the ball and test the keeper as this was well managed by the deep compact defence. Notable chances in the opening 15 minutes were 2 low driven crosses from Dale that were unfortunately cut out by the defence. It was a positive start despite the factors effecting the game. After 20 Minutes Finlayson who again worked hard in the lone forward role closed down a back pass resulting in the keeper hitting the ball against him and rebounding into the goal 1-0 RH. As the ball was struck with power, Finlayson naturally picked up a knock from this but he found the inner strength to carry on - our star striker off the mark !!!!
Murgatroyd, Finlayson, Pickering and Coupe then grew into the game and showed glimpses of great interplay that created openings but resulted in no goals, never the less this was encouraging as we continue to gel. At the other end the only danger coming our way was from corners and set pieces which were defended and scrambled well against with concentration kept by the back 5 with Joe Ritson and Temple dominating the physical battle in the midfield. On roughly 30 mins after some good link up play, Pickering was put down the left flank cutting inside before placing the ball in the far corner.. 2-0 RH a great finish from the self-proclaimed and in his words ‘The White Henry’. Oxenhope won a free kick not long after which brought Sanderson into action Making a strong save from the goal bound shot. The half ran out with us defending corners before Pickering was put through on goal, 1v1 with the keeper, but a weak effort meant a comfortable save for the keeper much to his and our disappointment but HT 2-0.
We talked about not sitting back the 2-0 lead and winning the 2nd half and getting into good habits. From the off with the wind behind us through balls were too straight and out of play, playing on the front foot as we did in the 1st half never really materialised, Oxenhope got a foot hold back into the game and came out on the attack with shots firing in on Sanderson but never really troubling him. As the opposite happened this half we had quite a number of set pieces which were met well by us but again the keeper not tested with the only bit of controversy when Temple was pushed in the back from a delivery which was clearly seen by the official who got this one wrong.
Oxenhope began to find gaps and again shot after shot from distance was seen wide by Sando n goal who looked in confident mood, and so he proved when after a glancing header from an in-swinging free kick he somehow pushed the ball wide and away showing great agility and determination to make the save. Oxenhope then struck the inside of the post which stayed out which in truth again may have got a touch on from Sanderson. Changes were made as young Alex Haigh replaced Pickering and Tommy Smith replaced the hard working Finlayson and the fresh legs did us a lot of favours as we were again looking dangerous in attack.  To sure things up Temple who came in to do a certain job and did that well for me was replaced by Jonny Downey who made his first appearance of the season. The game drifted out and finished 2-0 so we achieved our first 3 points of the season away at a difficult place to get anything at all. Whilst the 2nd half wasn’t the best we were playing against a physical direct team in difficult conditions, the squad showed me and Dave Parker what they can do and getting off the mark with 3 points was the only thing that mattered.
Defensively Sanderson and the back 4 shielded by the 2 as we set up today as well as the work ethic by our front 4 put a show of real determination which was pleasing to see and work hard for the clean sheet. It’s also important to note the referee who had no assistants was brilliant and had a great game which was refreshing to see. On to Carlton Wednesday who will feature ex-players in a big derby game.

6.30 Kick offs are not ideal for everyone from players to management as everything seems to be a rush job but with everyone in by 6pm we were ready for the game ahead. The team was announced with only 2 changes from the weekend's positive performance and the team was issued their instructions on Beeston’s strengths and how we were going to approach the game.
1st Half we began the game attacking uphill and quickly started soaking up a lot of possession from Beeston without been overly troubled, Matthew Gould & Joey Ritson keeping in check the opposing 2 central midfielders, not allowing them time to dictate effective possession. As predicted Beeston worked hard and had a consistency in their play, whilst it was sometimes direct in driving it into the big men up front with second and third man runs around them you can certainly see why this is effective at grinding down teams who eventually make that split second mistake and switch off. This is by no means labelling Beeston as a long ball team as they can mix it up as well but we as a unit looked well drilled in our defensive shaping and made them go long more times than they would admittedly have wanted to. Chris Brown & Lewis Richardson once again competed well with the big front two and in all honesty won their own personal battles with the rest of the team mopping up any second balls that dropped.
The story of the half as an onlooker was that Beeston had more ball but in truth didn’t test Lee Wood in goal as we dealt with high ball extremely well, whilst going forward Dale Pickering, Scott Murgatroyd and Jamie Lister's movement and width created a number of opportunities that tested their keeper's handling and gave us 3 or 4 good opportunities to open the scoring which in all honesty could and should have happened. We had little possession of the ball but the possession we had I would call effective possession as we 2-3 passes later we were in advanced positions. After chances in open play and chances missed from set pieces for us, approaching the 38th minute mark Beeston’s left back over hit a cross that looped to the back post hitting it and landing at the forwards feet in the 6 yard box who casually tapped in 1-0 Beeston. Then in the 43rd minute a low shot from a tight angle beat Lee Wood at his near post 2-0 HT …It was a massive blow as we had worked hard at frustrating them and whilst it was ball after ball into the box from all areas of the field we were dealing with this and looked dangerous going forward.
Re grouping at half time we put the message across that it was going to be the next goal that was going to be the deciding factor in the game and to continue to stay positive and believe in the ability we have, we could get something from the game keeping to ball on the floor and not letting the game become a battle. The natural slope gave us the opportunity to maybe play 10 yards further forward which happens automatically at this level, and began to play in the correct areas until on the 55min mark, a great low cross from good build up play resulted in Ryan Bailey putting an unavoidable clearance into his own goal 3-0 and in truth you are probably thinking game over. But we continued to get hold of the ball and grew into the half with long range shots from Jamie Lister and a good chance for Joey Ritson on the edge of the box flying over the bar. The referee was quite keen on playing advantage all night and when we had Gould fouled in midfield the ball found a Robin Hood shirt through on goal but the referee pulled it back for a free kick to our disappointment. As the half went on Murgatroyd struck a sweet volley only for the keeper to produce a fantastic save tipping it onto the bar. Minutes after Dale Pickering was found superbly by James Finlayson pulling the ball back, unselfishly first time to leave what seemed like a certain goal but the keeper scrambled well to make a solid stop but it was another chance we could have again scored. Shortly after this again in the box after good build up play Dale had an half volley from close range save superbly by the home keeper who had kept 3 certain goals out and certainly on his own earning a clean sheet for his team.
Changes took place with Chris Coupe coming on for Dale with the weekend in mind, Joey Ritson making way for young talent Alex Haigh and Tommy Smith coming on for Jamie Lister.  In the closing moments of the game after an attack Beeston exploited gaps in our recovery into defensive shape and another low cross was tapped in at the back stick despite the industrious Ryan Baileys attempts to close it down, 4-0. One last moment of controversy when Ryan Bailey was body checked in the box but In everyone’s (even Beeston’s) amazement it was only given as a free kick on the edge of the box. One last attack forced a good low save from Lee Wood with his feet but that was that 4-0 Beeston.
After the game we spoke about the result on fair reflection not been a 4-0 game but ultimately we have to be harder to beat or certainly be more street wise in not shipping goals, as to the rest of the league it looks like a stuffing but in reality not so much. After a positive preseason and a very unfortunate draw against Pool I still stand by the ability I have at my disposal and this is visible in the chances we created, once one of these go in maybe it takes a bit of luck we have a squad that can go on an unbeaten run and carry momentum well. It will happen but we need it to happen sooner rather than later now and we are all pushing in that same direction which is a sign of success.  It’s very clear there’s not a lot between sides in this league! Credit to Beeston they deserved the game on balance whilst not by the margin, you can see why they got 3 trophies last year and I wish them luck for the rest of the season as they are the benchmark we need to emulate.

The day started out with a team photo which in support for our hairless skipper, Matthew Gould got the the Bic out and gave himself the once over. Before the game the squad continued their team bonding and was given a surprise solo dance by our vice captain Ryan Bailey.. It seemed to work. 
Now the serious stuff. We quickly set about our task working hard off the ball to regain possession but this time from the first whistle. Dale Pickering and Bailey caused problem after problem for their right hand side with only the final ball/shot not having the desired effect. James Finlayson got away a shot in the opening 20 minutes only for the visiting keeper to pull off a top draw save. We looked dangerous, restricting Poole only to possession on the half way which caused us no problem what so ever due to the squad's desire to work hard and press off the ball, led by Gould and Joe Ritson.  Then disaster - Pool broke forward and as the ball was cleared it hit Chris Coupe on the arm just outside of the box. The Pool forward stepped up and placed a ball into the corner of the goal. 1-0 down!!!  We mentioned prior to the game that disappointments happen in football but good teams react quickly to this and we certainly did. With what seemed like a few minutes after conceding we had a free kick delivered into the box from Chris Collinson before falling to Jamie Lister to smash home a screamer from 3 and half yards. 1-1 back in the game and back on top.
Half time came and we were happy with the way we played and the amount of chances we had created especially from corners.  2nd half started in the same vein.. Work hard, win the ball and drive forward using our electric full backs who were doing their best impression of a yo-yo.  We got a free kick 25 yards out to which Collinson stepped up and drilled it into the top corner leaving the keeper with no chance - only for the linesman to flag and say he moved the ball forward to gain an advantage. Colly in true style stepped up again and drilled it low in this instance and the keeper made a poor attempt (clearly scared by the 1st FK) in not keeping the ball out. Scott Murgatroyd made an appearance off the bench following his late arrival back off holiday and caused the defence no end of trouble setting up Pickering for what seemed like a tap in only to miss at the back post. The introduction of Curtis Aston, who was initially unlucky to miss out, caused problems in a more advanced position and had the opportunity to win the game but the keeper saved well in a 1v1 situation. Pool continued to drill the ball forward but the impressive partnership of the skipper Chris Brown and Lewis Richardson casually dealt with any danger sent our way.  As we entered the 5 minutes of injury time Pool had one last throw when a perfectly placed long ball just beat Browny for their striker to place home passed the advancing Lee Wood. The referee blew his final whistle and 16 disappointed people entered the changing room which in all honesty felt like a loss
The group worked as hard as any team I've been involved in over the years if not more, but we dropped and invited pressure on to us in the process, maybe tired legs in the warm sunshine. I can't question their determination and their endeavour. We could have been out of sight on another day but on reflection I couldn't be more delighted with what I have at my disposal with 17 strong players and the attitude they have. Going forward we will be successful with their attitude and ability they possess. This results in wins. We will learn as a new group of players continue to gel better.  Lewis Richardson voted MOM.

  Latest update:24-5-17