Oxenhope 0, Bardsey 0
Following two recent defeats, Oxenhope produced a much-improved level of performance, showing their true character and resilience, which was needed as their opponents were Bardsey, the West Yorkshire League champions and this season’s front-runners.
The visitors also sought revenge for their only defeat in the campaign, when Oxenhope beat them 3-2 at Bardsey.
Gradually Oxenhope started to get a foothold in the game. Michael Garnett, returning to the side, won the ball and linked with Tom Marshall, who in turn fed Ollie Metcalfe, his powerful strike skimming the crossbar.
Scott Nelson then played in Marshall, who laid the ball into the path of Gaz Ritson, who forced the keeper into a smart save, turning the ball round a post.
Shaun Quinlan whipped in the resulting corner and Jason Walton rose powerfully to head narrowly wide.
Oxenhope always had to be alert though as Bardsey were dangerous on the break, and keeper Nick Hudson produced a superb one-handed save to deny the visitors’ front man.
Garnett’s strength then won him the ball and his pass to Quinlan saw the youngster try an audacious lob that beat the keeper but also the crossbar.
In the second half, the champions upped their game, and for long periods they were camped in the Oxenhope half.
Bardsey showed their class with a good first touch, passing and movement but the home side’s defence was resolute.
The back four of Chris Day, Nelson, man of the match Walton and Dale Hawker kept their concentration under pressure and restricted Bardsey to strikes from distance.
It was now Oxenhope who were restricted to breaks downfield. Both teams had half-chances towards the end of a spirited match but a draw proved fair.
This Saturday, Oxenhope face another stern test when they travel to Beeston, who are also among the leading lights in the Premier Division (2.30pm).
Oxenhope: Hudson, Day, Hawker, Nelson, Walton, White, Quinlan (Moriarty), Marshall, Garnett, Metcalfe, Ritson.
Robin Hood Athletic Reserves 1, Oxenhope Recreation Reserves 1
Oxenhope’s second string ground out a point at Robin Hood in a dour Alliance Division One encounter but preserved their record of being the only unbeaten side in the five divisions.
The first half had few highlights as the hosts’ physical and organised approach unsettled Oxenhope, although visiting keeper Sam Lee saved well down to his right and Mackenzie Dawson headed another goal-bound effort clear.
At the other end, Oxenhope’s best opportunity fell to Graham Robinson, who volleyed over.
On the hour, Robin Hood took the lead, Lee making a terrific save, only for another opponent to net the rebound.
The lead was short-lived, however as, within ten minutes, Nivard Trowers’ slide-rule pass was converted by Leon Smith.
On Saturday, Oxenhope entertain fourth-placed Wetherby at Marley (2.30pm).