Keighley u-17s 1 Wharfedale u-17s 3
Keighley’s amazing run in this season’s county cup ended in disappointment as they went down in the final against Wharfedale in front of a large crowd at Woodlesford.
Although the defeat was hard to take, it was an immense achievement to get so far and, for long periods, it was Keighley who were the dominant side.
They came flying out of the blocks as Tom Baker saw his blistering effort tipped over the bar after just 40 seconds.
Keighley did not let up, with the midfield quartet of Dominic Mortimer, Harry McGowan, Jon-son Butterfield and Baker controlling the game.
Butterfield should have opened the scoring but saw the keeper save well from his low shot.
On 15 minutes, Euan Sessford found Baker with another opportunity, which was saved, and the next chance saw Mortimer fire over from the edge of the box as Keighley could not find the clinical finish.
Wharfedale, who were largely made up of players from Guiseley’s Academy squad, were not coping with the high intensity but, as the game developed, they grew more in confidence and strikers Jack Wrigglesworth and Sessford were finding it difficult to find space.
The strength of Keighley’s back four was evident again as Josh Ferguson, George Guest, Keann Shaw and Joe Meegan were as impressive as in their semi-final victory over Barkston Ash.
Against the run of play, the deadlock was broken after 37 minutes when Keighley switched off. They thought the ball had gone out of play but Wharfedale continued and the ball was touched in by Nathan McDonnell from two yards, despite keeper Josh Hardisty’s attempts to save.
Keighley were shell-shocked and fortunate to go into the break only one down as Wharfedale tried to push home their advantage.
Keighley started brightly and, although chances were at a premium, McGowan saw two efforts blocked.
On 65 minutes, Keighley got their deserved breakthrough as Sess-ford outmuscled his marker to smash the ball home from ten yards to equalise.
This should have been the catalyst to go on and win the game but they were only level for three minutes as another lapse in concentration saw the ball squirm away from Hardisty into the path of Joel Thompson, who could not miss.
Keighley huffed and puffed for the equaliser as Kieron Henry, James Gilmartin, Ben Cox and Sam Fox were introduced.
They had one more opportunity but Cox inadvertently got in the way of Shaw’s effort on goal.
With time running out, Wharfedale broke away and scored with a 25-yard shot from Dylan Palfrey-man, which deserved to win any cup final.
Charlie Wysocki, who coaches Keighley along with Eugene Gaughan and Dave Heaney, said: “The players have shown that they can compete with the best in the West Riding and this should be just the start for some of them.
“Hopefully they will take with them the experience and push themselves to play at a high level.”
“They are all capable but it will ultimately come down to the desire and determination of each individual.”
Keighley will end their season with a game against Bradford City or Halifax Town in May at Silsden.