Midgley United boss Craig Gee says his side have “a lot of issues to address” heading into Saturday’s home derby with Hebden Royd Red Star (2.15).
United still lead the Halifax AFL by five points but last weekend’s 5-4 defeat away to Warley Rangers has left Gee pessimistic about his side’s chances of repeating their 2012-2013 title success.
Stump Cross, last year’s first division champions Northowram and Warley - who had also beaten Midgley 4-1 at home in October - have all dropped fewer points.
Gee said: “We have got 10 games left and we have really got to win all 10.
“To be honest, if we are conceding five goals in a game we are not going to win it.”
Midgley fought back from 4-1 down to draw level at 4-4 at West Vale, only to be sunk by a last-minute diving header from Tom Hiley, who was completing a hat-trick.
Gee said Midgley had made too many individual errors against Warley and a defence lacking injured Joe Gibson had been “wide open.”
Midgley picked up three points in spite of conceding six goals at home to Shelf in December, scoring seven themselves, but they didn’t get away with a shoddy defensive effort a second time.
Gee added: “It is back to the drawing board. We have some massing games coming up and Star is always one of the biggest games of the season.”
Gee was hoping to start ironing out some of the problems at training on Wednesday.
At least he has no further injury problems but quality centre back Gibson failed a fitness test before last Saturday’s game and seems unlikely to face Red Star.
Tom Booth played his first game of the season for the reserves on Saturday after ankle surgery.
The prolific striker scored twice in a 4-2 win over Halifax Irish Centre in Division One but came off after 65 minutes and is likely to improve his fitness in the second team for a few more weeks.
Fourth-placed Star, meanwhile, will also be desperate for a victory on Saturday.
Their poor run continued with a 3-2 defeat at Greetland and they lost the first meeting against Midgley 4-0 in an evening game at the start of the season.
Although they were on the back foot for much of the contest at Greetland it was by no means a poor performance against a team now second in the Premier.
Star player-manager Chris Garbutt is hoping it is a good time to play Midgley after their opponents’ setback last weekend.
He took encouragement from the display at Greetland because Star were without central midfielders James Chadwick and Daniel Lumb.
Defenders James Rawlinson and Ben Norman had to take on the playmaker roles, which was not ideal.
Garbutt said: “They did not play badly. They won every header but it was more difficult for them on the floor and we didn’t have much possession.
“In the second half we had to defend for almost all of the 45 minutes.”
Garbutt expects to have Chadwick and Lumb back on Saturday.
“We have no injuries and hopefully we will be at full strength,” he said. “We will definitely be up for it.”