WITH six minutes left on the running clock, Keighley were looking good for clinching second place in Counties One Yorkshire.

They were leading rivals Beverley 30-20 but then things got very tense.

Firstly, Keighley’s No.8 Tom Whyte was sin-binned for slapping the ball down and then prop John Gibson was yellow carded for not releasing in the tackle.

In between these dismissals, prop Matty Brown had scored a try for the visitors to make it 30-25.

Now, with seconds left and a two-man advantage, Beverley were attacking.

Surely, they would score a try near enough the posts to convert and triumph 32-30 for a bonus-point win and take second place themselves by one league point, pushing Keighley down to third?

However, Keighley employed a blitz defence, Beverley did not go through the phases and the ball popped out of a visiting player’s grasp like a cork in a bottle.

The hosts then gleefully kicked the ball off the field to confirm victory in one of the best games seen at Rose Cottage for years.

Now it is a waiting game for Dan McGee's side.

Runaway leaders Goole have definitely been promoted, but Keighley will have to wait at least a week until all of the postponed league fixtures have been played to find out if there is another vacancy at Level Six.

Keighley's perfectionist fly-half Alex Brown, typically annoyed at missing a very kickable penalty and a more difficult conversion, was nonetheless thrilled at his team’s triumph afterwards.

He said: “There were only a few minutes left when we got the second sin-binning and I was a little bit nervous but totally backed our defence.

“The game was fast and we had a brilliant crowd. They were loud and created atmosphere.”

As for that potential promotion, Brown said: “All that we can do is control the controllables, and we did that and hopefully we will be promoted for the second season in a row.”

On a personal level during a tremendous encounter, Brown admitted: “It wasn’t the best day for me with my goal-kicking but the lads have done it - all season we have been fantastic and gone through many hard matches.

“We had a great week’s training, everyone has been so focused, our game management was good and we (the backs) got a lot of good ball from the forwards to make it easy for me.”

Keighley wanted to kick-off earlier than 3pm due to their long-arranged club trip to Cumbria, while there was also the Gordon Throup Memorial Match between the second teams of Keighley and North Ribblesdale at Settle.

However, Beverley understandably stuck to their guns for this re-arranged match, postponed from January 21 with 11 minutes left when referee Andy Baker pulled a hamstring.

In front of a crowd of 350 – Keighley’s second best of the season after the visit of Bradford Salem – many of whom were on the banking, the verandah or in front of the stand, home skipper Adam Horsfall was soon on the attack.

However, the first concrete opportunity went to the visitors after a 50-22 from full back Luke Hazell, whose grandfather Dave played for Keighley RL in the 1960s alongside Terry Hollindrake.

Lock Jack Houseman almost went over on the left but Keighley pinched possession and full back Alfie Seeley, back after a long lay-off, ran out strongly from defence.

Centre Sean Kelly then stopped Beverley fly half Rob Smith in his tracks but Hazell, who showed his paces in the original clash, again proved how dangerous he is by running the ball in from 50 metres in the 12th minute, using his winger as a foil.

Smith converted for 7-0 but, as rain swept down the valley, Keighley levelled matters 10 minutes later as Horsfall and lock Jordan Yaxley paved the way for Whyte to score and Brown to convert.

Keighley were offside in the 26th minute, Smith popping over the penalty, and two minutes later, his break gave winger Jake Boardman the chance to cross, Smith stroking over the conversion.

Beverley lock Louis Frear then came off after an elbow in the eye, before Brown missed a kickable penalty for the hosts in the 32nd minute.

He also fired wide with a conversion attempt four minutes later after prop Sam Booker scored following the award of two successive penalties.

Trailing 17-12 at half-time, Keighley pulled the deficit back to two points with a Brown penalty a minute into the second stanza after blocking from Houseman at the kick-off.

But, after visiting No.8 Callum Harvey came off with an ankle injury, Smith restored Beverley’s five-point margin with a 46th-minute penalty.

The visitors were then reduced to 14 men after centre Mike Melhuish was sin-binned.

Horsfall, playing despite not being fully fit, and Booker went close either side of the sin-binning, as did winger Cameron Bealey-Kay.

But Keighley eventually made it over the line when a beautifully-timed, delayed Brown pass put winger Alan Ebbrell into space in the 58th minute.

He then fed Horsfall, who dived over to level the scores.

Brown’s conversion put Keighley 22-20 ahead and things got even better five minutes later when Seeley went over from Brown’s long pass.

Referee Jordan Wakeham, who controlled matters well, took the heat out of a situation that was becoming feisty, before Horsfall’s shoulder injury got the better of him with seven minutes left, Jak Adams replacing him.

Brown’s penalty from between the 22-metre line and 10-metre line gave Keighley a 30-20 advantage with six minutes remaining but then the waters got murkier for them.

That disastrous spell which saw Whyte sin-binned, Matty Brown score and Gibso yellow carded threatened to derail all of the hard work Keighley had put in since September.

Down to 13 men, it seemed inevitable that Keighley would concede a try and lose, but their indomitable spirit saw them through and now they must wait until after next weekend’s results to see what fate awaits them.