Sunday 27th June 2021:
League Cup Final:
Leeds City Rovers 2, FC United of Baildon 2, Leeds City won 6-5 on pens.
Sunday 20th June 2021 (WTL Champions League Final):
Skipton United 2
Horsforth Fairweather 1
Bell, T.Wilson, Archer, Shapland
Lancaster, Pickering, Hoyle, Abbott
Subs: R.Wilson, Bogdanos, Canning; unused subs: Monaghan, Jones
Cautioned: Hawes (Dissent)
Horsforth took the field for the Final of this controversial yet (from our point of view) rather uplifting competition with an unchanged starting XI and the added bonus of Rob Wilson among the subs.
The opposition, a side making their bow in the Wharfedale Triangle's Championship Division this season, had enjoyed a trouble-free passage to the Final, in marked contrast to our own endeavours, but we'd done enough research to be aware that we were facing a football team of great quality, and so it proved.
The early exchanges were fairly even, the Skipton lads making a few chances but kept at bay by some diligent defending, while our own attacks always looked like they just might get past the high line of the opposition's defensive setup.
Chances had come and gone at both ends before in the 27th minute they worked the ball well down their right, evaded a couple of tackles, and ended up prodding the ball into our net, a huge blow to an HFFC defence which had coped admirably with all that had been thrown at them up to this point.
But any suspicion of an imminent collapse was quickly cast aside just a couple of minutes later, as a throw from the left caused a brief moment of uncertainty in the Skipton defence, and George Lancaster was lurking to gather the ball and sweep it into the net.
The second half started in similar vein, both sides playing positive football and looking to gain the advantage in what was becoming a very marginal contest.
Horsforth brought Rob Wilson on with 25 minutes left to play, a gamble on the big man's fitness to be sure, but it looked to have paid off when he was bundled to the ground on the 26 minute mark, and the referee pointed to the spot.
Regrettably, the kick was ballooned over the bar, but nevertheless Horsforth kept the changes positive, Christos Bogdanos adding a further bit of guile to the midfield.
The game was settled by a dubiously-awarded free-kick in the 40th minute of the second half, the initial cross half-cleared but the loose ball crashed home from outside the box in one of the day's most memorable moments, a truly exquisite goal worthy of settling any contest at this level of the game.
Well, as you'd expect, Horsforth tried to claw their way back into the match, but a late sin-bin sentence to James Hawes for dissent, effectively a sending-off at this stage, meant the advantage was always with the opposition.
Credit to our players where it's due, they all kept going right to the final whistle, but it was not to be.
So our sincere congrats to Skipton United, on winning what was a high quality and on the whole very sporting contest.
From HFFC's point of view, if we came up short on the day, it was by the narrowest of margins.
On the assumption that we'll all be back for more in September, we can only look forward to the forthcoming season with increased enthusiasm, as the competitiveness of the Premier Division is only going to be enhanced by the arrival of teams like Skipton, and the onus is now on us to raise the bar in our own game.
So, cheers lads, all told it has been a pretty commendable season to be frank, and as ever the promise of what's to come should be more than enough to keep us all on board for another campaign.
Sunday 13th June 2021:
League Cup Semi-Final:
Leeds City Rovers 6, Yeadon Athletic 2.
Leeds City to play FC United of Baildon in the Final, 27th June.
Sunday 6th June 2021 (WTL Champions League Semi-Final):
Horsforth Fairweather 3
FC United of Baildon 0
Bell, T.Wilson, Archer, Shapland
Lancaster, Pickering, Hoyle, Abbott
Subs: Bogdanos, Canning, Monaghan, Jones
Scorers: Abbott, Lancaster, Litvinov (pen)
With new midfield star Satwik back in India, Horsforth had just the one vacancy this week, Matty Pickering getting the nod to replace him in central midfield.
Facing a side we'd never beaten before, Horsforth started downright nervously.
The first fifteen minutes were a bit of a nightmare, unable to get the ball out of our half for long periods, and deeply indebted to some heroic defending and fine goalkeeping from the ever-improving Sam Jeffrey to keep the away side out.
But then it all changed, as Gary Litvinov flicked a clever ball into the path of Callum Abbott, who steered it into the net for a goal which if not exactly undeserved was certainly more than bit against the run of play.
Thereafter, Horsforth began to play some really good football going forward, and if the defensive uncertainty was still there, it was at least balanced by the spirited tackling and ball-winning.
True, both sides had their chances, but by the time we got to the break I'd say we were beginning to get on top.
Nine minutes into the second half, Callum took a snapshot from distance out on the left, and the ball ricocheted kindly into the path of George Lancaster on the opposite flank.
The finish was cool and decisive, the game ours to lose from this point on I felt.
We were awarded a rather soft penalty after 18 minutes, Gary the player fouled and the same striker merciless from the spot, and we never looked like letting the three-goal lead slip.
As the clock wound down, there were still chances here and there, but the away side had given themselves too much to do, while Horsforth turned to another well-staffed subs bench to prevent the initiative from deserting us - particularly pleasing to see Christos back in the action in this respect.
So a game which had started off looking well dodgy ended up a notably convincing win, and an impressive (though I must admit rather flattering) scoreline.
Overall, a great performance by all departments of the team, the well-organised defence earning much praise and Sam his first clean sheet, while the attackers currently look like outscoring any opposition that come our way.
Breaking the jinx against Baildon, and marching through to the Final in two weeks time, there was much to commend this match to posterity, but I'd like to give special mention to the way we played our way out of the early ropey spell, always aware that just one moment could turn the game our way, and so it proved.
Leeds Maccabi 0, Skipton United 6.
Sunday 30th May 2021:
WTL Champions League Quarter-Finals:
Pudsey Athletic 2, Leeds Maccabi 3;
Skipton United 9, Bramley United 0.
League Cup Semi-Finals:
Keighley Athletic 0, FC United of Baildon 4;
Leeds City Rovers v Yeadon Athletic - postponed until 13th June.
Sunday 23rd May 2021 (WTL Champions League Quarter-Final):
Horsforth Fairweather 5
Yeadon Athletic 1
Bell, T.Wilson, Archer, Shapland
Lancaster, Sreedhara, Hoyle, Abbott
Subs: Pickering, Canning, Monaghan, Jones; unused sub: R.Wilson
Scorers: Litvinov 2, Abbott, Lancaster, Archer
Cautioned: Jeffrey (unsporting behaviour)
A rare event in the history of HFFC: an unchanged starting XI, but there was a slight reshuffle, with Callum Abbott deployed on the left of midfield and James Hawes in his more customary role up front.
The first half performance was best described as steady rather than particularly brilliant, but we did enough to go into the break with what always looked a decisive lead.
Occasionally a little bit over-elaborate with the passing game, Horsforth got the early breakthrough after 15 minutes when keeper Sam Jeffrey's long punt evaded the Yeadon defence and Gary Litvinov was alert to the half-chance and steered the ball in from a narrow angle.
Defending soundly and beginning to dominate the midfield, we scored a superb team goal on 33 minutes, Kev Hoyle the final pass and Gary the eventual tap-in, by some distance the best footballing moment of the day.
In the 42nd minute, from a set piece, Hawsey had a shot blocked but the ball rebounded to Callum, who followed up powerfully and accurately.
At the interval, we thought we'd been the better side, but mindful of past events there were a few choice words said about staying focused on the task ahead.
However, the second half wasn't any sort of contest for long.
Five minutes in, a bizarre and pointless incident led to the away side having two players sent off, in what had hitherto been a fairly benign encounter, and that inevitably killed off any remaining hope they had of getting a result.
Equally inevitably, it was hard for Horsforth to maintain concentration under the circumstances.
We scored a fourth goal after 20 minutes when Shane Bell's pass manufactured a chance for George Lancaster, and three minutes later Hawesy brought the ball down from a corner for Reece Archer to bundle over the line unmolested.
Aware of the need to keep the squad ticking over, and keen to avoid injuries in what had become a formality of a game, there was a spate of substitutions in the second half, and it's fair to say we didn't really keep up the momentum that the five-goal lead had given us.
The away side even scored the last goal, after 27 minutes, reflecting great credit on their team spirit in adversity, but the day was clearly ours.
A win's a win, they say, even if it's against nine men, and any attempt to devalue this result should be judged against the fact that we were three goals up and untroubled defensively when the red mist came down.
We should also bear in mind that the away side had already beaten us twice this season (in a friendly, and on penalties in the League Cup), so this was never a game we could take for granted.
So a day that will probably be remembered more for a few moments of silliness rather than as one of the all-time great HFFC performances, but a game in which we did what we needed to do, and did it with a bit to spare.
Leeds City Rovers 2, FC United of Baildon 2, Baildon won 4-2 on pens.
WTL Champions League Group D:
FC West Leeds 2014 1, Bramley United 1.
Skipton United v Bramley United,
Pudsey Athletic v Leeds Maccabi,
This page last updated 27/06/2021.