Bardsey battle absentee crisis

9th February 2013'EP Sport, Your Club feature.'Bardsey FC.'Pictured Manager Lee Barraclough and his assistant Gary Melia.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
9th February 2013'EP Sport, Your Club feature.'Bardsey FC.'Pictured Manager Lee Barraclough and his assistant Gary Melia.'Picture by Gerard Binks.
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Bardsey began the defence of their West Yorkshire League Premier title in style on Saturday, but Lee Barraclough and his depleted squad have to do it all again this week...with even fewer players.

Despite missing seven regulars last week through suspension and four through unavailability, Bardsey opened their account with a 3-0 win at Otley Town to sit joint top alongside Hunslet and Ripon City.

But they are without as many as 14 key names this Saturday, when they visit a buoyant City side who won 4-1 last week.

Kippax then visit Keswick Lane on Wednesday (6.15pm).

It’s a dire situation for any manager but for Barraclough, it’s a case of the show must go on.

“Ripon City will be really strong, they had a good result on Saturday, so to be honest I’m not looking forward to going there,” he said.

“We’ve got five suspended for it, but this week’s even worse because lots of people are away.

“I’m 14 light. We thought it would be hard against Otley. I’m counting down the days until everyone comes back.

“After Saturday, things should get better. We’ve just got to get our heads down and carry on. 
“I’ll be looking at a few of the reserves and maybe calling in a few favours, but we’ve got to be realistic about what we can do at Ripon.

“We’ll just have to see what we can get out of it.”

Despite the absentee crisis, Bardsey were still able to deliver a characteristically strong performance at Otley.

Centre half Michael Mills netted two, with Mike Toney grabbing their third. Skipper Rob Dickinson led out the team despite being on stand-by for his expectant wife.

“We were 10 short for Otley Town, and that 10, on any normal day would win the league,” said Barraclough.

“The side we had out was great, team players and some of the new boys.

“They did everything I asked, and everyone excelled. To come away with a 3-0 win in those circumstances, you can’t ask for any more.

“Rob said he was playing, he told me to hold his phone and if anything happened he said to sub him off.”

Bardsey took back their league title last season, and though times are tough, Barraclough is relaxed

“This year, there’s no pressure on us,” he said.

“Last year we felt it a bit when we lost the title to Beeston, but now it’s down to other people to knock us off our perch. We do things a bit differently at Bardsey. We don’t like losing at tiddlywinks or pool but in football, these things come to test us.”