Ladies Football: Lansdall fires Harrogate Railway to West Riding title

Harrogate Railway's Emma Lansdall scores the second (Caught Light Photography)

Harrogate Railway's Emma Lansdall scores the second (Caught Light Photography)

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Harrogate Railway Ladies were crowned West Riding Premier League champions with a match to spare after beating Bradford Park Avenue 2-1 on Sunday.

The nerves were showing in the first half as Railway struggled to settle down and Bradford gave their all to upset the potential party.

It was 17 minutes before Railway had a shot, with Emma Lansdall’s strike stopped at full stretch by the Bradford keeper.

That was a rare sight of goal in a quiet first half, which left Railway despondent into the break.

Boss Simon Mercer gave a frank talk to his side, and Railway came out fighting to take the lead on the 48th minute.

Lansdall hit a shot from 16 yards out, and after it was cleared, Louise Donnelly latched onto the loose ball to strike home.

The goal lifted the Railway Ladies but the Bradford keeper was level to everything Rail’ threw at her.

However, Railway eventually doubled their advantage on 67 minutes as Rachel McDonald received a pass from full back Jenny Hudleston and put through Lansdall. The player of the match kept her cool and slotted home.

However, Lansdall missed a glorious opportunity to double her personal tally shortly after when she sent a penalty wide.

But Bradford weren’t finished and with eight minutes to go they punted a long ball over the top and scored to put the home side on edge.

Railway managed to hold on to their seventh win of the campaign, to go one point above Ossett Town who have finished.

The championship victory has also sealed a promotion into the North East Regional Womens League.

Railway will double up their trophy victories if they take victory over Tingley Reserves in the League Cup final at Ossett Town on May 4.

Boss Simon Mercer said: “It’s a massive achievement for the girls. We won the league two seasons back but that year we had an excellent striker.

“Since then we have struggled and we haven’t been getting the clean sheets. This year we have been able to get clean sheets. It’s been a big improvement by the girls.

“It was a bit surreal for the girls at full-time. I don’t think they had initially took in what they had achieved.

“For me, it’s been the proudest season. Fifteen years ago I started junior football at Railway. It’s grown from there. Six years ago we didn’t have anywhere for girls to go in the area when they got to 18.

“It’s an accumulation of 15 years work for the club. The icing on the cake would be if we could do the double. I don’t think anyone has done that in a lot of years.”