A-man-of-the-match performance from front man James Allan made the difference as reigning champions Beeston St Anthony’s snatched away Leeds City’s unbeaten league record with a 3-2 win.
Beeston, who were playing their first game in nearly a month thanks to their squad’s contribution to the West Yorkshire Association League representative side’s near-herioc efforts in Europe, produced a vintage second-half display to overcome a 2-1 half-time deficit and remain hot on the heels of leaders Carlton Athletic.
And despite their position in the table, their assistant manager Matty Bennett, who took charge on Saturday in the absence of the holidaying Mark Halmshaw, marked out the victory as one of the most important they would achieve all year.
“We went into the game with a bit of apprehension to be honest,” he admitted. “Leeds City are a good side and obviously hadn’t lost all season, and they beat us last year. We’re doing well in the league but we really haven’t been playing that well.
“It was easily the best we’ve played all season in that second half. We came out with a bit more purpose and we deserved to win it. Hopefully we can use that as a benchmark now and kick on.”
Having taken the lead early on through Sean Jeavons’ sixth goal of the season, last season’s treble winners were deservedly behind as Leeds wrestled control of the first half. With momentum well and truly shifted after the break, it was a smartly taken freekick by Allan that drew them level, before Stephen Crawford netted the winner.
“There was no debate about who was man of the match,” said Bennett on Allan, who repeatedly got the better of the league’s meanest defence. “It’s the best he’s played all season and, to be honest, he was unplayable. They’re a very good unit and he ran rings around them at times. He was outstanding.”
Despite Bennett’s assertions that Beeston are operating below their best, they sit second, just three points behind rivals Carlton. Having secured the hat-trick of league, West Riding FA County Challenge Cup and the West Yorkshire League Cup last season, he sees no reason why they can’t repeat the haul.
“We want to win as much as possible. Last season was unbelievable but we’re not really feeling much pressure to be honest. If that second half is anything to go by, we won’t be far off.”
They’ll need Carlton to slip up though, and they showed no sign of doing so just yet as they eased to a 3-1 win at Shelley. A Kris Robertshaw strike and a double for Daniel Chadwick did the damage for the visitors and made it eight wins out of eight for last season’s runners-up, who boast the league’s fiercest goal-scoring record and now share the claim to the meanest defence with Leeds City.
Third-placed Field stayed in touching distance of the top of the league with a 3-1 win at Knaresborough Town, whilst Sherburn White Rose were on the receiving end of perhaps the most surprising result of the day as they were hammered 4-1 by Hunslet Club.
The woes of basement dwellers Wetherby Athletic were increased as they were taken apart by Headingley, who move into fifth. Ashley Austin netted a second-half hat-trick, and there were celebrations for Jon McKinley, Andrew Williams and Sam Pickup as they ran in six unanswered goals.
As if to pour salt into their wounds, second-bottom Oxenhope turned Ilkley Town over in a 4-1 win, leaving winless Wetherby seven points adrift at the bottom of the pack.
Third-bottom Brighouse Old Boys also gained a point in a 1-1 draw with Pool. Robin Hood Athletic, in 12th, drew 2-2 with 10th-placed Horbury Town.
In Division One, bottom-placed Thornhill’s dismal showing continued as they were dispatched 11-1 by 10th-placed Featherstone Colliery, for whom Andrew Burton bagged seven to go top of the league scoring chart.
Fellow strugglers Otley Town lost 3-2 to Kippax and Aberford Albion went down 4-3 to Howden Clough. Whitkirk Wanderers held Swillington Saints to a 2-2 draw.
At the other end of the table, third-placed East End Park failed to gain much ground on the absent sides above them as they drew 2-2 with Huddersfield Amateur, as did Wyke Wanderers, in fourth, after a 3-3 draw with Old Centralians. Hartshead and Leeds Modernians played out a 2-2 draw.