Kirk Deighton Rangers end 15-year wait for Harrogate League title

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Kirk Deighton Rangers manager Dan Marshall hailed the end of an era after they sealed a dramatic win to be crowned champions of the Harrogate and District Football League.

Rangers headed into the final game of the season needing a win against Kirkby Malzeard to secure a first league title for 15 years.

A goal from Jonathan Wilks in his last game for the club sealed a 4-2 win, which meant Deighton finished level on points with Rawdon Old Boys and with a goal difference of just one better.

After beating Rawdon last week in a game that essentially decided the title, Rangers went into the game with all the momentum. But after goals from Rob Holliday, Dan Brierton and Mark Adams had put them in a comfortable 3-1 lead, they conceded late on. However Wilks scored with just five minutes to ease the nerves and earn the title.

Marshall said: “It was fitting that he got what was really the winning goal. He is leaving for Dubai in September so it will be his last game for the club. It had been a nervy final few minutes, we were holding on with heavy legs because of the fixture pile-up so it was a relief when Jonathan scored.

“It has been 15 years since we last won the title and I was playing then. To win it this year is a great credit to the lads who have really bought into what me and my assistant have been trying to do.”

The fixture congestion has seen Rangers play six games in the last two weeks, but the manager is in no doubt the momentum gained has been crucial in the title run.

“The game last week against Otley Rovers (Rangers won 3-0) was big. We played on a horrible pitch with long grass and struggled in the first half.

“After that we played really well and it set us up for the game with Rawdon.

“The Rawdon game was the one that made this all possible. I would say it was more important than beating Kirkby because without that we wouldn’t have even had the chance. It was the biggest game of the season.

“They (Rawdon) are a very very good side, we wanted to stop them playing and really go for the win whereas they perhaps were looking for a draw.”

After winning the title in his first year back as manager, Marshall is targeting more cup success next year but admits that some of the squad are likely to move on.

He added: “We would like to do well in the district and County Cup next year but there will probably be quite a bit of a turnover this summer as some of the older lads step down.

Wetherby Athletic ‘A’ finished the season in fifth place. Clifford were two places below them having finished in April.