Stansfield 'proud' as Boro cap stunning season by lifting league winners trophy
Knaresborough Town manager Paul Stansfield spoke of his pride after the club lifted the NCEL Division One trophy on Saturday.
The Manse Lane outfit wrapped up the title in midweek when they beat FC Bolsover, but got their hands on the silverware following their home clash with Yorkshire Amateur.
Boro may have thrown away a two-goal lead in that game and ended up on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline, but the result did nothing to dampen the spirits.
“I’m really pleased for everyone involved with the club and so proud of what we’ve achieved,” Stansfield reflected.
“It felt fantastic to get my hands on that trophy. Promotion was our aim at the start of the season, but we didn’t go shouting about it and I doubt we were the favourites to finish top when you compare our budget to that of other clubs, so we’ve done incredibly well to win the league with four games to spare.
“This is the best group of lads I’ve worked with in the game. They’ve been absolutely different class, so consistent over the course of the season and they deserve a lot of credit.
“I won a few titles and trophies as a player, but this one is the best of the lot for me in terms of the sense of satisfaction. This is a brilliant achievement for Knaresborough Town.”
Stansfield attributes Boro’s fine campaign to a number of factors, but stressed that their title success has been a long time in the making.
“We put ourselves in a good position by making sure that we got all of our targets last summer. We signed some good players who improved the squad and we have added to it as we’ve gone along, bringing in the likes of Dan Thirkell and Rob Youhill to strengthen us when we’ve needed it,” he continued.
“The addition of Paul Clayton and Gregg Anderson to the management team was also massive. Paul has such a wealth of experience and Gregg is a winner. They’ve both been amazing.
“The one, big moment for me was when we played Pickering Town in pre-season. They’re a very good team who are challenging for the title in the division above and we battered them. It may only have been a friendly, but that result proved how good we are and the lads took a lot of belief from that game.
“We then made a very good start to the season, winning the first nine league matches on the bounce. That took us to the top of the table and but for a tiny blip in November, we’ve never really looked back.
“This hasn’t happened overnight, or even just over the course of this season though, this is something that has been building for the last few years as the club has progressed and I’m just delighted we’ve delivered for everyone, especially our chairman, Peter Plews.”
Boro made the perfect start to Saturday’s encounter with the Ammas, Dan Clayton finishing off Brad Walker’s right-wing cross at the back post with just three minutes on the clock.
The lead was doubled 10 minutes before half-time, slightly against the run of play, when Steve Bromley broke into the box down the left, showing great strength to hold off a defender before firing a shot across goal and just inside the far post.
From this point onwards, it was however the visitors who dominated the majority of the play as they desperately sought to keep their own automatic promotion hopes alive.
Barely two minutes after Boro had extended their lead, Fernando Moke was afforded time and space close to the peanlty spot to flick the ball up and then ram it down the middle of the goal for 2-1.
And the Ammas were on terms before the break, Jason St Juste slotting into an empty net after Jack Rushworth’s superb point-blank block had denied Ashley Flynn.
The game ebbed and flowed in the second period, though it was the away team who continued to make most of the running against a visibly jaded Boro.
With eight minutes remaining, Harrison Blakey got in on goal and was clattered by the onrushing Rushworth, however the ball broke to Flynn who had an open goal to aim at for 3-2.
Moke then wrapped things up in the dying minutes, showing delightful footwork to put Rushworth on the floor after being played clean through, cutting back inside and rolling home.