Sunday 22nd April 2018 (Leeds Combination AFL Premier Division):
AFC Leodis 3, East Leeds Celtic 1;
New Pudsey 3, Chapel Allerton 1;
Swillington Welfare 1, Colton 2.
Thursday 19th April 2018 (Leeds Combination AFL Premier Division):
Horsforth Fairweather 3
Team: Pope, Bell, Shapland, Howarth, Jones, Molloy,
Lancaster, R.Wilson, Monaghan, Hoyle, Skillern.
Subs: Bainbridge, Pickering; unused subs: Foster, Townend.
Scorers: Howarth, R.Wilson, Lancaster.
For what was our third game in five days, Horsforth were able to field a rather stronger side than previously.
Popey was in goal, while the defence switched to a four again with Shane Bell moving back to the orthodox right-back role alongside Luke Molloy, Jonesy and Dave Shapland.
Steve Skillern took up his familiar station on the left of midfield, freeing George Lancaster to revert to the right. Rob Wilson was back from his suspension, and with Dave Howarth and Kev Hoyle made it a very robust central midfield, while Luke Monaghan had done enough 48 hours previously to earn another start, this time in the lone striker's role.
For the fourth consecutive game, we changed ends at 0-0. Not that the first half lacked any passion, nor decent football, if anything it was a case of two committed sides who rather cancelled each other out in my opinion.
The match came to life in the eighth minute of the second half, as we conceded the opening goal from a header following a free kick, but just two minutes later Dave Howarth's accurate shot from the inside-left position found its way into the corner of the net, the Colton keeper possibly having trouble judging the flight of the ball against the setting sun.
Encouraged, Horsforth brought on Ryan Bainbridge as sub again, to ask different questions of the Colton defence, but we were playing very well all over the field at this point, and it came as no surprise when in the 18th minute George's corner from the left caused mayhem in the box and found its way to an unmarked Rob who had time to guide his shot home.
It was still a long way from game-over at this stage, and the away side, who needed a win to retain any realistic chance of being champions, stepped up the pressure on our goal, Popey denying them with a fine one-handed save on one occasion. But we never stopped trying to play football at the other end, and ten minutes from time Skilly found himself with a bit of time and, ignoring Ryan who had strayed offside, deceived the defence by passing to George, whose lob into the empty net ended the contest even if it didn't end the arguments.
Another strong performance, worthy of comparison to the Pudsey game, but this time with a couple more regulars in the team, and by the final whistle I thought we had done more than enough to earn the result. That the result meant more to New Pudsey than to ourselves was just one regret we can take from a season that will probably be remembered as one where overall we didn't quite do ourselves justice, but I have to say, the last couple of displays have been most encouraging for the future.
Tuesday 17th April 2018 (Leeds Combination AFL Premier Division):
Horsforth Fairweather 0
New Pudsey 1
Team: Pope, Bell, Shapland, Howarth, Jones, Molloy,
Townend, Riley, Monaghan, Hoyle, Lancaster.
Subs: Bainbridge, Grant, Minshull; unused sub: Foster.
Match report by The Manager:
"I've seen many great performances by HFFC over the 20plus years but I have to say tonight was up there with them all. Ok we lost and we didn't have that cutting edge that got us at least a point but everyone put their effort in on that pitch tonight. The subs and touchline support was fantastic. Always encouraging and the spirit was superb despite a number of good players missing. Thanks boys."
I can't think of much to add to that...
Firstly, a word of praise for the two youngsters (with one career start between them) who played up front.
A three-man defence - Jonesy, Shappy and Luke - and five across midfield. A good shape throughout, gave as good as we got in the very tight first half, maybe rode our luck a bit after the break. Conceded another goal from a free kick, chased it a bit after that and could easily have salvaged an honourable draw.
Ryan Bainbridge and Robin Grant made their first appearances as subs, good to see Steve M back too.
Other league games:
Chapel Allerton 2, AFC Leodis 4;
East Leeds Celtic 0, Colton 6.
Sunday 15th April 2018 (Leeds Combination AFL Premier Division):
Horsforth Fairweather 1
East Leeds Celtic 1
Team: Pope, Bell, Shapland, T.Wilson, Molloy, Diamond,
Thorp, Howarth, Lancaster, Hoyle, Skillern.
Unused subs: Jones, Riley, Monaghan, Townend.
Cautioned: Diamond, Thorp.
There was a bit of an air of anti-climax to this one, perhaps a consequence of last week's disappointing defeat, but Horsforth were able to field quite a strong side.
Popey took over in goal, with Dave Shapland returning at left-back. Kev Hoyle and George Lancaster gave the midfield a more familiar look, while Thorpy started again as the lone striker.
The first half was, similar to last week, rather unmemorable. Both teams put in plenty of effort, but neither side looked like making the breakthrough, and it was no surprise when the ref blew for half time with the game goalless.
Horsforth came out for the second half in rather more inspired mood. In particular, there was more width in attack, but it still took a while before we made our increasing superiority count. After 18 minutes, Tom's shot from the inside-left position took a deflection and looped over the thoroughly impressive away keeper, and for a long time it seemed that might be enough for all three points. I'd say Horsforth continued to make the better chances after this, but the East Leeds defence was well organised and more or less error-free on the day, while our own back line, also pretty solid for most of the contest, became a bit ragged as the game wore on, even if it was clear the only way we were going to concede was from a free-kick. Regrettably, we gave away rather too many set pieces, and in the 43rd minute were undone when one such effort was played in from the right and bundled into our net at the second attempt.
Taking the game as a whole, this was a spirited display from Horsforth, with lots of hard work and solid tackling, and I'd say that we were the better side for most of the match. However, they always tell you you're vulnerable at 1-0, and our failure to finish the game off came back to haunt us. For that, in my opinion, you have to first give credit to the dogged away team, especially their defence and goalie, and only then move onto analysing our own performance. I felt we lacked a bit of our usual imagination in the last third of the field, perhaps were too narrow in attack during the first half, but overall there wasn't too much we did wrong this morning, just paid the price for one defensive lapse. As you do, at this level.
Other league game:
New Pudsey 5, Swillington Welfare 1.
This page last updated 22/04/2018.