The title hopes of defending champions Beeston St Anthony’s were dealt a significant blow by a surprise 3-2 defeat at Horbury Town, writes JACK GOODMAN.
The defeat leaves them 12 points adrift of last season’s runners-up, Carlton Athletic, who showed no sign of easing up with a 4-0 win against Ilkley Town.
“We’ve got to keep plugging away, but Carlton are looking like the team this time,” admitted Beeston manager Mark Halmshaw. “When the top team has won every game, it’s hard to keep up.”
Halmshaw added that he felt his side were unlucky not to come away with a point on Saturday, but conceded that it was too much to ask to chase a two- goal lead at half-time.
“We’re keeping very positive, there’s still a lot to play for. We’re still in five competitions, and league titles aren’t won in November.
“If they have a rough patch, we have to make sure we’re in touching distance.”
Second-placed Beeston took the lead from the penalty spot, as Sean Jeavons notched his 10th goal of the campaign, but a brace from Luke Playford and Lamin Bojang’s sixth goal of the season saw the home side take a 3-1 lead into half-time.
Beeston came back fighting and a goal for Lee Coleman made it 3-2. In the end, they were only denied a point by the heroics of Horbury goalkeeper Scott Bennett.
Halmshaw said: “It’s disappointing. For some reason we’re struggling to defend away from home.”
The result saw Horbury record their first league win since September 3 and manager Micky Long said the result was long overdue.
“It’s a much-needed win,” Long said. “We’ve been doing well in the cups, but our league form hasn’t been what we’ve expected.
“Given the run of form we’ve been on in the league, it was a bit of a must-win game. We don’t have another league game until the New Year, so it was important that we got something positive out of the game. It’s a huge result from our point of view.
“It’s massively needed, both for points and for confidence in the group.”
Despite going a goal behind, Long was full of praise for the way his players responded.
“It can go one of two ways when you go 1-0 down against arguably one of the best sides in the county,” he said. “We responded the right way and got ourselves 3-1 up, but it could’ve been more at half-time.”
The Horbury manager admitted that Beeston deserved their goal in the second half, but felt that his side could have grabbed one themselves on the counter-attack.
“It’s always tough against Beeston. Scott Bennett’s save has won it for us in the end. On another day they could’ve snatched it, but we deserved it over the 90 minutes.”
Long admitted that the result could have spelt the end for their title hopes. “Anyone can beat anyone in this league, but Carlton are starting to run away with it.”
The result saw Horbury finish the day in 12th, six points clear of Ilkley Town, who were put away by Carlton.
Goals from Sam Graham, Daniel Chadwick, Reece Fennell and Tom Griffiths saw the likely champions romp home 4-0.
Sherburn White Rose enjoyed a 5-2 victory over Brighouse Old Boys.