Can anyone stop Richmond Mavericks from claiming back to back titles? It seems increasingly unlikely.
On Saturday Mavs overcame a spirited Leyburn 6-2. It was the first time the two sides had met this season and the title holders were made to work hard for the win.
Leyburn had a somewhat makeshift team with several players away. But somehow despite early threats from Mavericks they found themselves in front.
Some superb one and two touch football saw the home side cut through the Mavs’ defence like a hot knife through hot butter on a hot day.
The silky combination ended with Kiefer Bottomley shot being parried by Mavs keeper Steve Reed right into the feet of the Leyburn striker Kalem ‘fozzy’ Stanger who was clinical from five yards out.
Mavs were quick to react and via patient possession play created several chances without ever forcing a save from Leyburn keeper Jack Davison, although a fine overhead looping shot by Bastow did hit the base of the post.
At the other end Mavs keeper Reed was forced into making a great save with his feet.
The equaliser did come eventually from a commanding forward run and a pin point cross by Dunwoodie for Bastow to finish from eight yards.
Mavs were having joy exploiting the lack of height in Leyburn’s team. Soon afterwards a Dunwoodie free kick into the box was met by the head of Lovell and the ball fell for Bastow who to make it a quick fire brace, out jumping Ste ‘sleepy’ Moffat in the process.
Before the break there was still time for an Andrews’ corner to be headed in by the impressive Reuben Bainbridge and another great save from Reed.
In the second half a Phil Stirling header gave Bastow the opportunity for a hat-trick but he decided to dive out of the way rather than apply the finish and the ball rolled to Lovell who taps in from a centimetre.
The game was by now looking beyond the reach of the hosts. But at that very moment the Mavericks centre half Davey Andrews, resembling an ageing Tony Hibbard, held onto the ball for what seemed like an eternity, stumbled and then kicked his own foot when he tried to clear.
The tenacious striker Kale ‘Fozzy’ Stanger managed to get his git kite in the way of the ball before scampering towards the goal as if there was pizza and chips waiting for him.
He managed to make it to the box without having to stop for breath, and with his heart beating out of his chest, slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Leyburn were still under the cosh and were limited in their ability to reduce the number of set pieces allowing the Mavericks players, who resembled the giants in comparison to their counterparts, to dominate further in the air.
The four-goal cushion was restored when a Kelly corner fell to Reuben Bainbridge who controlled the ball before twisting and turning and firing into the corner of the net.
On 62 minutes Miller replaced Johnson who due to a few too many vodkas the night before had spent the entire game stumbling around the pitch like David Haye in Saturday’s nights fight.
A few minute later Van Miller rose like a salmon with a bullet header over the keeper and ran off celebrating like he’d scored a World Cup winner.
A bright moment for the hosts was when debutant Drew ‘love you, bye’ Mackay came on in the 80th minute.
He was able to perfectly control the ball before audaciously flicking it over the onrushing Phil Sterling.
A fan was quoted as saying they had heard Mackay say ‘see you later’ while performing the flick.
The introduction of Mackay saw the host reshuffle and their last chance was created when Scott Greenway delivered a ball David Bentley would of been proud of. The ball found its way to Jack Hammond who incredibly shot with Mackay totally unmarked in the middle.
Leyburn players were surprised to see that the two did not come to blows over the incident.
At the other end a Kelly shot went out for a throw in.
Elsewhere league leaders Hawes United cruised to a five-nil away victory over a terribly nice Richmond Town Academy.
Richmond started the brighter of the two sides and had a good chance in the first minute before Hawes had even seen the ball.
Tom Carnegie-Brown started the move which saw Gilroy and Ketley combine well down the left but Swanwick was unable to reach the ball across the face of goal.
The young side continued to play some lovely flowing football and dominated the first 20 minutes but without managing to really test the Hawes keeper.
Like the fresh shoots of wild garlic all about the ridges of Easby Field, the home side were full of promise but wilted under the pressure.
Hawes stood by in the opening minutes as Richmond players glided through, only to scuff shots into the mossy turf.
It was left to Hawes’ Jordan Iveson to inject some real purpose into the game. Picking the ball up in midfield, he charged forward, beating several men, before looping a shot over the keeper. One-nil.
Hawes were playing towards the ruins of a sun-bathed Richmond Castle, with the equally evocative Easby Abbey behind. Down the left bank ran the Swale, full after a night of heavy rain.
Shayne Ketley on the Richmond left caused a nuisance with clever flicks and pace, while the opposition man of the match Tom Carnegie-Brown dummied and flitted attractively in the middle of the park.
But Hawes brought them down to earth with a smash and grab second goal. Town failed to clear a corner; the ball fell to centre-back Brett Calvert who scored from 10 yards.
Town continued to dominate the general play and created a host of chances which they failed to score.
At half-time Hawes were, astonishingly, two-nil up. There could be only two explanations: keeper Jonny Guy’s exemplary control of his box or Town’s terrible niceness.
The Hawes players received a dressing down and responded well. They had much more of the play in the second half, looking dangerous on the break. The third goal happened in the blink of an eye.
Left back Lloyd Iveson nodded a Richmond long ball to midfielder Scott Guy. Guy turned and swept the ball out to the left to Jordan Iveson who drove forward and crossed for Jonathon Champion to sweep the ball into the net.
The intensity of the match dropped to an amble. Nobody enjoyed that more than Hawes’ man of the match (as nominated by Town), the stallion, Brett Calvert. At one point the words, “he looks so relaxed”, were heard from the touchline, as Calvert chested the ball down and distributed.
But one man keeping up a trot was Hawes vice-skipper Lloyd Iveson. He scored the fourth with a volley, and the fifth with a header from the near the edge of the box.
The scoreline hardly reflected the amount of chances Richmond Town had.
For Hawes it was another three points, which extended their lead at the top of the table.
But with the Mavs winning again, it is becoming highly unlikely that Hawes’ good form will result in league victory.
The game between Reeth and Richmond Buck was switched to Middleton Tyas due to the overnight rain in Reeth and the Buck found it hard to find their feet after a two week break in a pretty drab first half.
A few feisty challenges, one or two verbal exchanges with the ref, and a mis-placed cross into the top corner of the Reeth net from Buck starlet Jacob Tate saw Buck take a slender lead into the half time break.
Tate made way for Marshal Thorogood at half-time, who for the second game running came off the bench to make a real impact on the game with his runs at pace and crosses.
On the other wing Micheal Ingram, the only Buck player to take any credit out of the first half, was putting in a man of the match display with his constant chirps to give him the ball and his uncanny ability to nip underneath defenders.
He put David Addison clean through but the Reeth keeper made an instinctive save, only for Thorogood to get tackled when with an open goal in front of him for the umpteenth time this season.
Twenty minutes into the second half Thorogood’s persistence paid off with a great crossed ball from the left for Danny Allen to finish and put in a claim for celebration of the season with a Klinsman dive through a puddle behind the goal.
Another Buck attack down the left saw Allen reach the by-line and pull the ball back for a real collecter’s item goal.
Reeth goalie Matthew Short pulled off a fine reflex save to palm the ball onto the bar after a shot from Andy D’Arcy.
But the ball went straight up in the air for D’Arcy to bundle it two foot over the line before being cleared.
He turned to the ref who agreed it went over the line, meaning he had his first goal this century. A few Buck players weren’t born the last time he scored.
The best goal of the day was saved until last when Micheal Ingram iced his man of the match display with a pearling drive into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box.
The arrival of a match report from Dabba on a Saturday evening can only mean one thing – Carperby win again, this time beating Spennithorne 3-1, despite only scoring one goal themselves.
The victory sent Rovers racing up the table to the dizzy heights of second – bottom.
Spennithorne took an early lead when their winger ghosted past Carperby full back Craig Marshall before crossing for a Spenni forward to head home, beating a Carperby defender who wishes to remain nameless.
Marshall has recently repeatedly told the Carperby management his best position isn’t full back and on Saturday he seemed determined to prove his point.
Carperby soon got level when veteran striker John Pickard reacted quickest to a long throw and finished smartly. Carperby then took the lead just before half time when Spenni keeper Scott Partridge juggled the ball onto the cross bar before their defender Anthony Beales sliced the ball into his own net despite no pressure from any Carperby player.
The second half was mainly Spenni putting Carperby under pressure, but their impressive centre back partnership of George Handley and Paul Harmsworth held strong, performing like a lot older version of Vidic and Ferdinand.
Carperby sealed the win when Seth Etches put the Spenni defender under pressure and he turned a cross into his own net.