Bardsey boss Lee Barraclough gave a glowing testament to relegation-threatened rivals Wetherby Athletic after his table topping side scraped a 1-0 derby win on Saturday.
Rob Dickinson’s header ensured Bardsey would remain top of West Yorkshire Premier at Christmas as they piled further misery on Athletic.
With title rivals Leeds City held to a 2-2 draw by Shelley, Bardsey pulled seven points clear at the top of West Yorkshire Premier.
Mark Forster’s Athletic lie second bottom and they last won a league match against Otley Town on September 21.
But Barraclough hailed the visitors’ resolve after providing his side with a scare at Keswick Lane on Saturday.
Barraclough said: “I was impressed with Wetherby at their place and I was impressed again.
“They started with a good tempo. For 40 minutes it was a tight game, really even and competitive.
“If Wetherby played like that every week, they wouldn’t be where they are. They looked like a top three side, not a bottom two one.”
Forster added: “The lads were terrific. Our two wingers Jack Emmett and Dan Wright absolutely destroyed them but we couldn’t get the ball in the net.
“It was a greatly encouraging performance.”
Wetherby started the fiery contest brightly, but new ‘keeper Joel Finney’s error allowed Dickinson to pounce for the game’s only score.
And Barraclough welcomed Dickinson’s winner as the red-hot goal machine returned to the side from suspension.
“He had to take it well. The ball came down with snow on it,” said Barraclough.
“It’s his first goal for a while. Hopefully he can get a run of games together back to back.”
Fellow frontman Danny Maw also returned to the champions’ fold after a spell on the sidelines as he replaced injured in-form goalscorer Steve Palfrey. Barraclough hailed his side for adapting to a formation switch at half-time as he changed from three centre-backs to a flat back four.
And his winners were also aided by a shift in weather at the interval, with high winds into the Athletic faces.
He added: “You have to be a football chameleon and change your style in this league.
“We started with a back three of Michael Mills, Shaun Stevenson and Stu Berry but they had two good wingers that were causing us problem.
“We had to change formation at half-time. Fair play to Wetherby, not many teams make us do that.
“We had a great bench on Saturday and that is testament to the whole squad we have developed here.
“Danny was great when he came on, he caused them problems in behind.”
Saturday’s shutout kept Bardsey’s in possession of the firmest defence in the West Yorkshire League this year.
The Red and Blacks have only shipped 12 goals in 17 matches this campaign, while their forwards have banged in 49 at the other end.
Without a match until January, Barraclough couldn’t be happier, adding: “We have shown strong resolve and have the best defensive record in the league.
“We have concentrated on getting that nil on the scoreboard and then it’s about getting the ball in the right areas to score.”