Bardsey crowned West Yorkshire League champions

Bardsey regained the West Yorkshire Premier League after they breezed past Wetherby Athletic 2-0 on the season’s final day.

Two first half strikes from Michael Mills and Daniel Maw were enough to secure the win as Bardsey dominated on The Ings.

It was perfect return to glory for Lee Barraclough’s side after a gut-wrenching title defeat 12 months ago - when an injury crisis wrecked their charge.

And having suffered two cup semi-final defeats already this year, doubts must surely have crept in as to whether luck was against them again.

Barraclough knew his side had the title in their hands. But he also knew, a slip up could let late bloomers Oxenhope Recreation snatch the crown at the last.

Without the services of suspended captain Jamie Thompson, Barraclough paired returning stalwart Mills with Stuart Berry in defence.

Des English had two players drop out injured before the match as he again battled an injury ravaged squad.

Members from several West Yorkshire League clubs attended the contest as a healthy 100-strong crowd converged around the pitch.

And they didn’t have to wait long for Bardsey to assume control.

Within two minutes tricky winger Matt Dalton saw an effort cleared off the line before centre-back Mills flashed a half-volley a yard wide.

But Athletic showed they were not going to simply roll over. Paul Hustwick arrived late in the box and his side footed shot squirmed through Bardsey stopper Jonathan Smith but wide of the target.

A minute later the deadlock was broken. Mills, who had been sidelined since Christmas due to an operation, tapped home after centre-back partner Stuart Berry headed a corner onto the under side of the bar.

‘Sey striker Robert Dickenson proved why he is one of the league’s most potent frontmen as his quick feet twisted and turned the Athletic defence at every given opportunity.

The goal machine looked the most likely to double the lead but he was twice denied by sprawling Darren Bottesworth saves.

The match settled but strong challenges from both sides typified the derby feel to the fixture.

Athletic would have equalised with 10 minutes of the first half remaining but for Graeme Bingley’s positioning on the line. The Bardsey midfielder poked clear Andy Haigh’s towering header from a driven Joe Wilkes corner.

It turned out to be a pivotal clearance as three minutes later Bardsey stretched their lead. Dickinson found the ball on the half way line before he played a precise pass for Maw to race through and jink past the advancing Bottesworth.

Mills was denied a second as Bardsey looked to kill the game off before the break before Athletic’s Neil Dickie scuffed from six yards with the goal at his mercy.

A groin problem forced Dickie to be substituted at half-time as English’s injury problems worsened.

The second half turned out to be a much more tepid affair.

Chances became limited with the occasional flash of brilliance from Dickinson and ill-discipline from the champions-elect.

The striker himself was lucky to stay on the field, having already been booked and plummeting to the ground appealing for a spotkick under debatable contact.

He tried hard to add to his 37 goals this season, but a long shot forced a good save from Bottesworth and a first-time strike was straight at the ‘keeper.

Des English’s Wetherby side huffed and puffed till the end but they ultimately lacked the cutting edge to harm ‘Sey’s imperious back four.

Mills looked assured in defence. Micky Longfellow and Graeme Bingley pulled the strings in midfield and Dickinson offered the touch of clash up top.

Bardsey defended like champions. They attacked like champions. And as the full time whistle sounded, they celebrated like champions.

Oxenhope’s 4-0 defeat to Leeds City sweetened their day as the league trophy went from in their hands, to being lifted above their heads.

Bardsey: Smith, Ryder, Swift, Mills, Berry, Longfellow, Dalton, Bingley, Maw, Dickinson, Towey.

Subs: Stephens, Palfrey, Brownrig.

Wetherby: Bottesworth, Slater, Johnston, Blewitt, Haigh, Buckley, Lockhart, Lockhart, Hustwick, Dickie, Ross, Wilkes.