OLD Malton St Mary's shock defeat to local rivals Malton & Norton on Saturday may mean the momentum is now back with Wigginton Grasshoppers as the race for the York Minster Engineering Football League premier division title enters the home stretch.

Coming into 2018, it appears the usual suspects of Grasshoppers, St Mary's, Huntington Rovers and Dunnington who will be challenging for honours.

However, with the weekend's results seeing last term's champions reclaim top spot from Old Malton for the first time in two months, and emerging sides such as Osbaldwick, F1 Racing and Church Fenton showing their mettle against top teams, the competition may not be as clean-cut as originally thought.

St Mary's were on an 11-match winning streak until the weekend's 3-1 defeat. Darren Dunning's men will likely amends in the next league fixture, however.

Grasshoppers have lost only one game to date, and now emerge as favourites to retain the title. They have elected to play a league game tomorrow, even though they have players selected for the league's representative side that takes on the Chester and Wirrall League in the second round of the FA Inter-League Cup on the same afternoon. One has elected to play for his club instead, though.

Huntington are hanging onto the leaders' coattails and could have a say in the title race, if they put together a consistent run and stay injury-free.

Dunnington are another side with quality. They have dropped points, but on a good day play some of the best football in the league.

It will be interesting to watch the progress of Osbaldwick, and it is encouraging to see three players from the team called up to the rep XI.

F1 are another team capable of inflicting damage, as they demonstrated in the cup fixture against Grasshoppers. Ace Chris Dempsey is an outstanding talent.

Dringhouses, Church Fenton, Copmanthorpe and Malton & Norton appear to be in a mid-table battle.

Dringy need to get on a good run to emulate last season's fifth-placed finish, but they have many good young players and will improve under Gary Kitson and Andy Barkway.

Having signed some seasoned players lately, Church Fenton are again capable of beating anyone, particularly on their own patch. They did come unstuck at lowly York RI last weekend, so maybe it will take time for the new boys to settle in.

Copmanthorpe are unpredictable. The team has a good spine, but their pitch can get very heavy and make games a lottery.

If Malton & Norton maintain form, they also look as if they can spring a surprise. They did, after all, claim that big scalp last week.

Currently looking to avoid the drop are Tadcaster Magnets, York RI, Poppleton, Hemingbrough and Sporting Knavesmire.

As happened last year, Magnets looked certainties for relegation until they beat Grasshoppers and put a run together. Manager Simon Wood is putting his faith in his younger players.

Poppleton have been unlucky not to have their home ground available of late. An excellent footballing side, on their own turf they are a handful to play against.

Knavesmire lost some of their better players at the start of the season.They have since rallied, but need to find better consistency.

York RI are getting their season back on track after losing several players, but Hemingbrough are finding the going tough, having been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats.

The race for promotion in division one is a hard call.

Thorpe United and Kirkbymoorside are the pace-setters, while Easingwold have several games in hand. Riccall, Tockwith and Rawcliffe are all in the mix as well.

Pocklington cannot be promoted to the premier division as they already have a first team playing in Step 7 of the football pyramid, in the Humberside Premier League.

Any promoted team will need to ensure their facilities meet Step 7 standards.

Meanwhile, the league's representative squad's FA Inter-League Cup tie against the Chester and Wirrall League tomorrow takes place at Harrogate Town.

The opposition passed through the first round with a 6-3 win after extra time against the Cheshire League.

A home tie against either the Lincolnshire or Staffordshire League awaits the winners.

YMEL squad: Mike Clancy (Wigginton Grasshoppers), Cam Sanderson (Dringhouses), Dan Andrew (Dunnington), Matt Pallister (Copmanthorpe), Dale Holding (Rawcliffe), Chris Bilton (Osbaldwick), Scott Nicholas (Old Malton St Mary's), Andy Simpson (Sporting Knavesmire), Jamie Wilstrop (Wigginton Grasshoppers), Daman Cox (Old Malton St Mary's), Chris Dyson (Huntington), Marcus Godsall (Old Malton St Mary's), Matty Mulhearn (Dringhouses), Dan Davison (Osbaldwick), Harry Sheppeard (Osbaldwick).