Two 3-0 wins in quick succession for Beeston St Anthony’s has catapulted them up into the Premier Division top spot.
The outfit dismantled both the clubs lingering in the danger zone, beating Otley Town and Wyke Wanderers respectively to edge them closer to lifting the trophy come the end of the season. With three different accolades now in their sights, including a Cup final on Friday night, manager Mark Halmshaw says his squad have the perfect mentality to be champions.
“We were thinking about winning the title back in August so nothing’s changed apart from the fact we’ve put ourselves into a great position with six weeks remaining of the league,” he said.
“The squad most definitely do believe we can win it, that’s the mentality they’ve had all along and one you need to play for Beeston. This club should be winning trophies so if we were to go on and win the title and or a cup this year it would mean so much to everyone involved past and present.
“I’m not feeling any pressure to win it or to win the cups though, I feel very lucky and humble to be managing at a very good club with a proud history. Pressure would be playing for survival, we are playing to win trophies.”
He added: “The squad are relaxed and enjoying being in three competitions at the moment but we don’t have any priorities at this stage, we just want to go out and do our very best in every game and if we do that I’m sure the success will follow.”
Lee Coleman (2) and Michael Nelson both notched in their 3-0 against Wyke Wanderers at the weekend before the squad replicated the scoreline on Monday night to comfortably take top spot into their grasps. The win was made even sweeter when rivals Field failed to muster three points of their own to blow the title race wide open.
“Monday night’s game was important; we needed to keep our run going and the momentum we have built going into the business end of the season,” said Halmshaw. “It’s very encouraging to see us beating two relegation-fighting teams because it’s never easy playing teams down at the bottom; they’re fighting for their survival so they make it extremely difficult as you’d expect.
“I don’t think Field slipped up though; it’s a very tough league this year with only two points separating the top four clubs, anyone can beat anyone. As far as inspiring confidence in my squad, it’s something they’ve never lacked – confidence is very high anyway. I’m very proud of my squad. The players are an honest bunch hungry for success and give everything for each other.”
The two sides they beat, Otley and Wyke on Saturday and Monday respectively, are both lingering in the danger zone after the defeats. The six points for Beeston though ensured they leapfrogged fellow title-chasing outfit, Field, who fell at the hands of Carlton Athletic at the weekend thanks to a couple of braces from Scott Hargreaves and Ben Scargill.
Leeds City, however, kept their fight alive with a 3-1 win over Oxenhope Recreation, while at the other end, Pool clawed their way out of the relegation scrap with a convincing 4-2 win at Robin Hood Athletic; Neil Ebdon (2) Thomas Fleming and Jamie Algar with the goals.
In Division One, Stanley United could muster only a point away to Headingley in a goalless draw, but the tie did put them another point clear at the top of the table. Headingley are just two points off a promotion spot with four games in hand.
Second-place Sherburn White Rose attempted to decrease the goal difference in an 8-1 thrashing against Ripon City; Alex Booth, Aaron Hodgson, Arran Hudson (2), Lee Jones, Danny Middleton (2) and Calvin Waite all notched goals to keep their promotion dreams alive.
Defeat for Ripon City sees them struggling to maintain their Division One status as they sit bottom with just 13 points.
Thornhill join them in the danger zone and a 5-3 defeat away to Ilkley Town didn’t do them any favours. Baildon Trinity Athletic were beaten too to keep them in the relegation scrap, Ben Turner bagging a hat-trick to accompany Danny Claxton’s goal in a 4-1 win for Leeds Modernians.
Swillington Saints came out victorious in a top-of-the-table clash, running out 4-3 winners against Howden Clough. Matthew Marshall and Jamie Scott both bagged braces to keep them in second and in contention for promotion.
The win didn’t get them in top spot though, that is still occupied by Hall Green United who sit 10 points clear, although Saints do have four games in hand. Huddersfield Amatuer also kept their promotion fight alive with a 4-2 win against Ossett Albion. They sit fifth but their seven games in hand on United could prove vital as we reach the end of the season.
Beeston St Antony’s Reserves are flying in Alliance Division One. Callum Harrion (2) and Paul McMullen bagged for a 3-1 win against Leeds City Reserves to keep them in second. Although four points off the top, they have two games in hand over current leaders, Oxenhope Recreation Reserves, who were held to a 1-1 draw byHunslet Club Reserves. At the other end, a 3-3 draw for Headingley Reserves against Leeds City Reserves wasn’t enough to lift them out of danger. They remain nestled in the drop zone with Otley Town Reserves.
In Alliance Division Two, Huddersfield Amateur Reserves continued their dominance as they run away with the title, recording a 2-0 win against Kippax Reserves. Barwick Reserves are the closest to them, a whopping 17 points behind; their clash with Carlton Athletic Reserves was abandoned at the weekend.
This meant Old Centrailians Reserves could take advantage and close their gap with a 2-1 win at Ilkley Town Reserves; John Allanson and Zivanai Mbire on the scoresheet.