Richmond Mavericks lose to Leyburn to ensure league goes to wire

Photo: James Coverdale/Flickr

Like taking home a girl from a Patpong bar, you never know what you’re going to find when you come up against league new boys Leyburn.

Beaten by Carperby, hammered by Colburn but then three weeks later they take three points off Unicorn.

And this weekend they put a massive spanner in the works that is Richmond Mavericks’ title defence.

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On paper it looked a routine three points for Mavs, but as we all know you don’t play football on paper – you play noughts and crosses, crosswords, Sudoku and that game when you put lots of dots in a square and then take it in turn to join up the dots.

Before Saturday Mavs hadn’t lost since January.

They were just two points behind leaders Hawes who had finished all their games.

Had they won they would have been champions.

As it is the faint sound of bottles chinking can be heard in some areas of Richmond.

Perhaps it’s just the little drummer boy collecting empties. Or perhaps not.

Fortunately Mavs have only got Richmond rivals and last year’s bridesmaids Unicorn to play in their last game which they have to win. Not draw. Win.

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It’s not like Unicorn are capable of producing a surprise package of their own if they can be arsed. Who knows they may even stay in next Friday night. 

Anyway, enough of that. This is what happened on Saturday I’m told.

The game started with both teams looking organised, trying not to make the first mistake of the game.

Smurthwaite had an early chance but put it wide. He had another after being out through by Emson on 15 minutes but this too also missed.

Mavs’ first goal was a repeat of the last fixture between the two sides when the home side were able to make use of their superior height winning both the first and second ball, with Emson firing home from close range with the outside of his right boot.

The game continued and both sides threatened. The second goal fell to Mavs when Adam Emson scuffed the ball under the wall from a free kick. 

The Leyburn goal keeper Jack Davison appeared to be confused by the scuffed nature of the shot and fumbled the ball.

Leyburn say the keeper back heeled it into his own net which is more fun than the Mavs version of Smurthwaite tapping it in.

Mavs went 3-0 up when Kelly played a ball up the line to Emson. He found Lovell in the box, who back healed for Fenney to score.

At this point the title was surely going to Richmond. Leyburn had gone to mush like a piece of Real Wensleydale Cheese taken on an aeroplane to a tropical country as a gift that would never be given.. another story for another day.   

The second half continued with both sides looking dangerous. The first goal of the second half was created when Mavs midfielder Dave Andrews awoke the beast in Leyburn striker Lee Davison.

Davison ran through and over men in bull-like fashion down the left flank, before pulling the ball back to Tom Hammond.

Hammond fired a pathetic effort at goal that dad Gadge will no-doubt have knacked him for later, before Kalem Stanger was able to intercept the shot as it dribbled lazily goal-wards and fire home from close range.

Leyburn immediately sniffed a comeback and began to win challenges, fizzed the ball through midfield and threatened to score a second.

The superb play was rewarded when athlete Scott Greenway made a marauding forward before setting up Tom Murfin who finished superbly off the far post from the edge of the box.

It was now a barrage from the visitors who were threatening to equalise.

Out of nowhere Ryan ‘lish’ Anderson showed no regard for positioning or physics when his run  down the left flank left two Mavs players in his wake.

He then managed to get his peanut shaped head up and found Kalem Stanger with an inch-perfect pass.

Stanger then punted the ball home and Mavs began to have more doubts than a mail order bride who marries a Dales farmer at lambing time. 

Leyburn continued there attacks and Murfin scored his second with a well-timed run at the near post.

The last goal of the game again fell to Leyburn when they broke at pace. Striker Lee Davison was played through one on one with the keeper.

Davison then recklessly waited for Dave Andrews to catch him up before beating him and slotting home. At the other end Kelly missed an open goal.

The final whistle blew. Hawes couldn’t be more thankful to Leyburn if Thomas the Bakers was giving away sausage rolls to everyone west of Bainbridge. And Bob was putting a bus on.  

Mavs will play Unicorn at Richmond School on Wednesday at 6.45pm.