Whitkirk Wanderers 0 Knaresborough Town 3

Saturday 10th December 2011
Whitkirk Wanderers 0 Knaresborough Town 3
West Yorkshire League Premier Division
At: Whitkirk Sports and Social Club, Selby Road, Leeds
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: cold, cloudy, sunny spells
Attendance: 55 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:36; second-half: 46:34

In a rare game for me in the West Yorkshire League, Knaresborough Town moved to the top of the Premier Division table thanks to three second-half goals against mid-table Whitkirk Wanderers.

One of the many things I like about a pre-Christmas trip to visit relatives near Leeds is the chance to watch a game in a league not normally on my radar. Two years ago, I made a short trip from the relatives to Sherburn White Rose and this afternoon it was an 11.5 mile round trip to Whitkirk Wanderers, based on the eastern edge of Leeds close to Garforth.

Travelling up, I was a bit concerned about a possible postponement due to the rain, ice and snow of the past few days. Thankfully, The Football Traveller Directory Part Two provided a phone number and I got the ‘game on’ message I wanted!

The directions on the league’s full-time website, enhanced by a bit of local knowledge from my cousin, made the ground easy to find. From M1 junction 46, follow A6120 Leeds to the second roundabout. Take the second exit signed ‘Halton Temple Newsam House’ to the lights by the Brown Cow pub. Go straight on and turn left down the drive immediately after the cemetery.

The ground itself was some 100 yards from the car park and Sports and Social Club, past the cricket ground and down a slope between railings. The sloping pitch ran lengthways from the entrance close to which was the changing rooms block which incorporated a tea bar hatch. Conservatory-style overhang provided shelter around two sides and it was possible to see all of the pitch from underneath the cover at the end. The pitch, which sloped from near-right corner to the far-left corner, was fully railed-off on three sides with no spectator access behind the bottom goal.

I’d read beforehand that Whitkirk were regular issuers and, true to form, a small pile of blue-covered programmes were on sale from a pay-table by the changing rooms.

Visitors Knaresborough (29 points from 16 games with a three-point deduction) went into this fixtures knowing that a win would take them top above leaders Beeston St Anthony who had no league games this afternoon. They had won their last five league games. Mid-table Whitkirk (20 points from 14 games) occupied eight position in the 16-team division. The teams met on the opening day of the season at Knaresborough with Whitkirk winning 5-2.

As Whitkirk opted to attack down the slope in the first half, Knaresborough (in red shirts, black shorts and red socks) got the game underway and almost scored with barely 20 second on the clock. The home side lost possession allowing Byron Littlefair to take the ball forward and curl a shot wide of the far right post.

Chances were scarce in highly-competitive game and Stephen Bromley headed a deep corner from Littlefair over the bar at the far post.

I think Whitkirk’s Simon Ndure was unlucky to pick up the game’s first booking in the 24th minute. The challenge on Tom Clarke was his “first tackle of the game”.

Whitkirk (in all blue) created their first decent scoring opportunity just before the half-hour mark. Karl Robinson threaded a delicious pass through the Knaresborough defence into the path of Steve Copley who steered his shot just wide of the left-hand post.

The visitors responded and, from Littlefair’s cross, Paul Stansfield saw a header blocked on the line.

The tea bar was certainly popular at the interval and three minutes after the restart, Tom Clarke curled a free-kick over the wall from 20 yards out straight into the chest of Carl Lill.

Knaresborough took the lead in the 55th minute. Joel Freestone ran into the area from the right and saw his shot rebound kindly off Lill for O’Hare to force the ball over the line at close range.

Just before the hour mark, Clarke fed Freestone who broke into the area only for Karl Robinson to produce a superb saving tackle to prevent a certain goal.

Whitkirk created chances to equalise – Ryan Robinson headed the best one straight at Jack Rushworth – but Knaresborough doubled their advantage in the 71st minute. A deep free-kick from near the right corner of the area was delivered to the far post where the ball was knocked down for Freestone to fire home from eight yards out.

A well-struck shot from Karl Robinson almost led toWhitkirk halving the deficit. Rushworth could only parry the ball to Will McGahan who fired across the face of goal.

Knaresborough wrapped up the win to take them top of the table with a third goal in the 83rd minute. David Thomas sent Lill the wrong way with a well-taken penalty.

Whitkirk Wanderers (blue/blue/blue): 1. Carl Lill, 2. Ryan Staniforth, 3. Danny Leaf, 4. Alex Wilson, 5. Phil Schoular, 6. Lydon Watson, 7. Mickey Eilliott, 8. Karl Robinson (capt), 9. Steve Copley, 10. Simon Ndure, 11. Matthew Dexter. Subs: 12. Ryan Robinson (for Dexter, ht), 14. Will McGahan (for Copley, 65), 15. Glen Hewitt (for Ndure, ht).

Knaresborough Town (red/black/red): 1. Jack Rushworth, 2. David Thomas, 3. Chris Ellerker, 4. Matthew Duerden (capt), 5. James Bradley, 6. Paul Stansfield, 7. Ian O’Hare, 8. Tom Clarke, 9. Stephen Bromley, 10. Joel Freestone, 11. Byron Littlefair. Subs: 12. Chris Hastings (for Stansfield, ht), 14. Daniel McDaid (for Littlefair, 84), 15. Colin Heath.

Referee: Martin Saville.
Assistants: Dan Mawer and Andrew Walker.

0-1 Ian O’Hare (55)
0-2 Joel Freestone (71)
0-3 David Thomas (83 pen)