United enjoy successful start to County Cup defence

United enjoy successful start to County Cup defence
Photo: John Hirst

OSSETT UNITED began their defence of the West Riding County Cup with victory over Garforth Town on Tuesday night (2-1). 

Tom Greaves gave them an early lead and an own goal put them deservedly 2-0 up at the break, yet Ossett were left hanging on in a mediocre second half to progress from the second round of a competition that they defeated FC Halifax Town and Guiseley to win last season.

“It was probably below-par but I wasn’t too fussed about that,” reflected United manager Wayne Benn. “These types of nights are sometimes just about getting the job done. (Garforth) have come and given everything.

“Ultimately I’m pleased with my lads that, far from a great performance, they were again resilient, stuck at it and worked hard, and that was a much-changed side.”

Charlie Marshall skied a big early chance for Garforth and instead it was Ossett who took a sixth-minute lead. Brodie Litchfield headed the ball on for Greaves, who saw goalkeeper Toby Wells charging at him and expertly lobbed over him and into the net for his 25th goal of the season in all competitions.

As the half went on United continued to play the better football, moving the ball well and creating numerous opportunities for further goals. Elliott Harrison scuffed a shot into the side netting, Nick Guest struck a Luke Porritt lay-off tamely at the keeper, and Greaves could only head wide a good cross from Litchfield.

Neither Greaves or Guest could turn in a fantastic Harrison cross from the left but Garforth didn’t learn their lesson as, a few moments later, the ball was won back in a dangerous position by Ossett, Porritt found Harrison down the flank again and his brilliant delivery could only be turned into his own net by Dan Williams.

The Garforth midfielder was hardly at fault but he redeemed himself before half-time nonetheless, standing resolutely on the goal-line to clear Porritt’s strike from close range after Wells had been unable to hold Guest’s initial low effort.

As dominant as the home side were in the first half, the tables turned in the second. Garforth came out with belief that the game was far from over and, against a United side falling into some sloppy habits, were given a route back into the game.

The goal that halved the deficit came just past the hour mark. The ball was kept alive from a corner, goalkeeper Brett Souter punched one delivery back into the middle and then made a superb save, but Ossett lost possession again moments later and Sam Barker was slotted in behind and found the bottom corner.

Lee Turner volleyed over as Garforth looked to threaten further, but the side a division below in the league ladder failed to offer a sustained threat on goal as Ossett’s defence held firm.

Litchfield was fortunate to stay on the field following a studs-up challenge on Sam Leach which only earned a yellow card, and Garforth pushed forward in the final 10 minutes with substitute Sean Hunter blazing over and United full-back Ross Hardaker in the right place to make a crucial block and divert Dan Coupland’s effort away from goal.

The final chances came instead to the cup holders on the break, with Corey Gregory curling narrowly wide of the post and Litchfield running in on goal only to see his strike denied by the legs of Wells.

Ossett will play away at Thackley in the third round on February 4. Their next game is back in the league away at Runcorn Linnets tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 3pm).

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