Mark Halmshaw says Beeston St Anthony’s won’t wave the white flag in the West Yorkshire League title race – even if the Saints boss admits the County Cup is now 2015’s more realistic aim, writes LEE SOBOT AND ANDY DONLEY.
Sub zero temperatures put paid to a host of planned 2014 finales on Saturday but not Beeston’s hosting of leaders Field which resulted in a potentially crucial 3-2 away win. Field subsequently end 2014 with a 14 point lead over second-placed Bardsey who have just one game in hand with Leeds City two points further back in third but with two additional games in hand.
Beeston sit fourth and 20 points behind the leaders but with four games in hand.
A late overhaul is not impossible but Halmshaw knows it’s unlikely with the Saints boss already licking his lips at the prospect of this Saturday’s last 16 County Cup hosting of Knaresborough Town.
“We’ll never give up. We don’t give nowt up,” said Halmshaw, assessing this season’s title race. “We know ourselves that it wasn’t too long ago that Leeds City were 12 points clear of Bardsey who got back in it and managed to win the league. We won’t be giving it up – there’s no doubt about that – but it’s going to be difficult after the last two results. We’ll be giving everything we can to make sure we’re still pushing and if it isn’t good enough, it isn’t good enough. We’ll build for next year.”
Field raced into a 2-0 lead on Saturday and while strikes from Matthew Jackson and Matthew Moon restored parity, the Premier Division’s top dogs had the last laugh with a 94th-minute penalty.
But there’s no time for a new year hangover with Beeston now awaiting the visit of a scorned Knaresborough side in the County Cup – a competition that is quickly becoming Beeston’s 2015 priority.
“We beat Knaresborough 5-4 at their place a few weeks ago and it was some game so it will be again,” said Halmshaw.
“We’re not going to start saying we’re out of the league but we realise now that the County Cup is probably the big one for us and it’s one we’ve never won. We’d love to win it, no doubt about it, but Leeds City and Bardsey are also still in it and they’d love to win it as well! It’s going to be tough but we’ve got a home tie which is all we can ask for. We are usually travelling an hour and a half away to a boggy pitch so fingers crossed we can push on and do well in it.”
Knaresborough warmed up for Saturday’s showdown with a 4-2 victory against Brighouse Old Boys. Brighouse reached half-time at 1-1, but the home side turned up the heat in the second half, with Christopher Fairhurst, Ben Lock, Brad Walker and Ben Parkes all scoring.
Otley Town took all three points home from struggling Ripon City, scoring a goal in either half to win 2-0. Sam Jewell and Scott Cater scored for Otley, to leave the hosts just one point above East End Park at the foot of the table.
Shelley’s hosting of Horbury Town was postponed and four matches were called off in Division One. But the division’s form side Pool took full advantage, beating Aberford Albion 2-0. Andrew Graham and Thomas Fleming netted to secure their fifth successive victory. Ilkley Town also kept their title hopes alive, beating Kippax 2-1 thanks to goals from Adam Fowler and Connor Greenwood.
Every game in Division Two fell by the wayside but 20 goals were scored in the three Alliance Division One games to beat the weather, with the best viewing to be found with struggling Robin Hood Athletic Reserves, who secured a priceless 4-3 win against mid-table Whitkirk Wanderers Reserves. Whitkirk struck through Eric Seed, Glenn Wood and Stephen Copley – but Robin Hood showed great character to secure their fourth win of the campaign, with Daniel Bridges, Scott Murgatroyd, Stephen Hancock and Matthew Gould all finding the net.
Elsewhere, Boroughbridge Reserves’ Paul Scaife, Scott Barnes and Benjamin Mudd scored two goals apiece as their side comfortably overcame Ilkley Town Reserves 6-2 – with Ilkley’s Thomas Rennolds also bagging a brace.
Wetherby Athletic had an explosive second half against Aberford Albion Reserves, winning 5-0 despite enduring a goalless first 45.
In the only played fixture in Alliance Division Two, Otley Town Reserves missed a chance to draw level with third-placed Ripon City Reserves, losing to their rivals 4-0 at home. Daniel Edmunds scored two for Ripon, who have their eyes set on the title, as they sit just two points from the summit.