Salts 2 Steeton 3

Steeton extended their lead at the top to four points thanks to three goals in five minutes just before half-time.

The Chevrons were without Chris Simpson and Andy King but had Pete Hanson coming in for his full debut following his move from Silsden.

With both teams having not played in December, there were signs of ring-rust in the opening stages.

The best early chance fell to Lee Reilly when he cut in from the left and whistled a shot across the face of goal.

At the other end, Salts’ Matt Newell shot wide and Andy Howland headed over when unmarked in the box.

Newell struck another shot from the edge of the box that Phil Rishton did well to get behind.

The pressure was beginning to tell and it was no surprise when Newell picked the ball up in the 34th minute and fired low into the bottom corner to give Salts a deserved lead. The goal gave Steeton a jolt and, after Andy Holden hit a free-kick just over, they levelled five minutes before the break.

Jamie Longley wriggled free in the box to fire home via the inside of the post. Within two minutes they were ahead.

Longley was felled just inside the area and Reilly confidently dispatched the spot-kick.

Things got even better for Steeton as Michael Rhodes fed Holden, who beat his man before crossing deep to the far post for Longley to head in a third and put Steeton in pole position.

Salts looked deflated in the second half but Rishton did well to dive full length to keep out a free-kick from Howland.

At the other end Reilly had a shot blocked after good work from Joe Park. Arley Barnes was just over with the follow-up.

Both teams tired on a heavy pitch but Hanson and Damien Whiteoak were dealing well with the home side’s midfield.

With the driving runs of Barnes, Steeton looked the more likely scorers.

However, with 15 minutes to go a tired ball from Whiteoak was intercepted by Salts and a long ball up field saw Howland rifle home to give the hosts a lifeline.

Steeton were now on the back foot but Rishton was on hand again to make two fine saves as Salts threw everyone forward.

Steeton nearly sneaked another on the break as Danny Riley and Matty Kershaw combined but it needed a timely last-ditch challenge from Jimmy Christian to ensure the Chevrons held on for the spoils after seven minutes of stoppage time.

Boss Roy Mason said: “For the first 40 minutes we played like a side that hadn’t played for five weeks.

“Our passing wasn’t good and we struggled to get a foothold in the game. However, the last five minutes of the half saw us show some clinical finishing and we then produced a solid and disciplined second-half performance.

“I’m reluctant to single individuals out but I thought Phil Rishton was excellent and he produced three outstanding saves in the second period to ensure we took the points.”

Steeton host Overthorpe in the league on Saturday.

Steeton: Rishton, Rhodes, Park (Riley), Christian, Rooke, Whiteoak (PJ King), Holden, Barnes, Reilly (Kershaw), Hanson, Longley.