West Riding County Amateur League: Steeton 3 Thornton United 2

STEETON took their unbeaten run to nine games with this win over last season's Division One champions as Ben Clarkson bagged a hat-trick on an emotional afternoon.

Before kick-off players and staff from both sides joined in a round of applause in respect of Steeton president David Baxter, who died on November 12.

David's family and former players were present at the game as Steeton were able to claim victory in tribute to the popular official.

The hosts made their attacking intentions clear from the start and striker Ben Clarkson was unlucky to see an early header strike the bar.

With Tim Hird, Jonah Smith and Ben Richardson battling hard in midfield it was not long before the deadlock was broken after 15 minutes when an Andy Holden corner found Clarkson, who made no mistake with a firm strike.

Just four minutes later the striker doubled his tally after jinking round his marker and firing a low shot past the keeper. Thornton came back hard at their hosts and saw a floating cross-shot hit the crossbar and a goal attempt blocked by a superb last-ditch tackle by Rory Judd.

The visitors' attempts to attack down the centre were almost always thwarted by skipper Michael Rhodes and Sam Rooke, while the other member of Steeton's back line, Elliot Scott, worked hard down the left flank in support of Richardson and the developing strike partnership of Clarkson and Andy Briggs.

The second half was only two minutes old when once again Steeton had to thank Rory Judd for another important goal line intervention.

Five minutes later a long-distance effort almost saw Thornton pull one back but the ball once again struck the bar and bounced down on the line, the referee Mr Ramsden waving away goal claims.

A goal came, however, when Thornton's Luke Hepton broke free and slotted the ball past Joe Mash on the hour-mark. Steeton restored their two-goal lead after 63 minutes when Smith put over an inch-perfect cross and saw Clarkson nod home to complete his hat-trick with his 16th goal of the season in his16th game.

The striker almost grabbed a fourth but yet again the ball hit the bar and bounced clear.

With 20 minutes remaining Thornton pulled a goal back when Mash miskicked a goal-kick straight to Hepton, who slotted home.

As the visitors pushed forward in droves in search of an equaliser Mash made up for his earlier error with three superb saves in the dying minutes.

To help bolster the defence, manager Roy Mason replaced Holden with defender Alistair Morgan and Steeton held out. Clarkson almost scored a fourth when Toby Jeffrey – who had earlier replaced Briggs – put over a good cross but the keeper caught the ball just in front of the line.

Mason said: "It was an emotional day for everyone connected with the club and I was just pleased that we managed to get the win for David Baxter.

"It was great to see so many ex-players down as well as David's family. We managed the game well, especially in the latter stages when we were under a bit of pressure and that was pleasing."

Steeton: Mash, Judd, Scott, Rhodes, Rooke, Hird, Holden (Morgan), Smith, Clarkson, Briggs (Jeffrey), Richardson.