West Yorkshire League: Wetherby Athletic eye first top six finish

Wetherby Athletic's Charlie Yates (Photo: Visualised Photography)
Wetherby Athletic's Charlie Yates (Photo: Visualised Photography)

A top six finish is on the mind of Wetherby Athletic boss Mark Forster as he readies his troops for the opening day of the West Yorkshire League season.

After the long haul of pre-season, Wetherby open up their competitive campaign with two matches in four days in the next week.

Athletic welcome last season’s surprise package Horbury Town to the Ings on Saturday, before a short dash to Pool on Wednesday evening.

Results have been strong as the miles have got into the players legs in the summer, with a pre-season campaign culminating in a 5-0 win over Aberford Albion last weekend.

And, fresh from securing the highest finish in the club’s history last season, Forster is hoping the squad can improve again in his third season in charge.

“I certainly think we are a top six side,” the boss said.

“We have got a lot of good players, and really good competition for places and a reserve team playing in a very good league.”

As well as the league campaign, Forster wants Athletic to stand out in cup competitions after falling short 12 months ago.

He added: “I think we are good enough to win a cup. We have to win our district cup, with the team we have got, we should be winning that.”

Forster has been delighted to welcome former Harrogate Railway captain Jon Maloney into his squad, and he added ex-Harrogate Town player Mario Campana to his ranks in the week. Ripon City full-back Matt McGlinchey is another newbie on the Ings after recovering from a long-term knee injury, while winger Joe Whiteley has also impressed Forster during the summer after signing from Harrogate Premier League side Harlow Hill.

Athletic will be without Joe Barden and Joe Wilkes, however, after the duo signed for Northern Counties side Brigg Town.

Forster added: “We have strength in depth and we want to finish as high as we can.

“We finished eighth last year and we would like to push on, so we definitely need to finish in that top six.

“It would be nice to know that we can go and compete against the likes of Leeds City and Field. It was a nearly season last year, we were nearly very, very good.

“We have strengthened over the summer and I am still hoping to bring one or two more players in.”

Meanwhile, Bardsey will begin life without boss Lee Barraclough bidding to recapture a title they have won four times in the last six years.

Captain Jamie Thompson is now part of the management team and he will lead the side at Hunslet Club on Saturday before taking on Knaresborough Town Reserves on Wednesday evening.