Hallmark Security League Division One: Silsden 1 Whitchurch Alport 2

A GOAL two minutes from time saw nine-man Silsden suffer their first home defeat of the season against their in-form promotion rivals.

Whitchurch made it eight wins on the bounce as they ended the Cobbydalers' 100 per cent league record at Keighley Road.

A bumper crowd of 302 – the highest gate of the season at the Cobbydale Construction Stadium – saw the fourth-placed visitors close the gap on Danny Forrest's leaders to 16 points with four games in hand.

The mouth-watering encounter pitted the division’s top scorers, Silsden, against the team with the meanest defence.

The Cobbydalers were at full strength for the first time this season, with Kyle Hancock recovering from a hamstring injury to replace the fit-again Will Storrie.

And it wasn't long before they took the lead on 14 minutes with a classic goal. Silsden's front men broke clear and Joe Gaughan chipped a ball into the path of Chris Wademan, who had timed his run to perfection to chip the advancing keeper.

Alport responded with Arron Johns firing over the bar before Craig Bentham and Wademan combined to set up Gaughan, whose snapshot was just off target.

The Cobbydalers wasted a couple of free-kicks before Arley Barnes forced the keeper into a save, albeit at the second attempt.

Left back Reece Kendal was finding Johns a handful but Dan Illingworth saved his blushes with a superb sliding tackle. A superb tackle by Josh Kaine foiled another Alport attack before Jakovlevs’ sliding challenge halted Simon Everall.

Five minutes before the break Niall Sultan cut into the Alport area and appeared to be tripped but the referee waved play on.

Early in the second half, Whitchurch defended everything thrown at them before Sean Griffiths wasted a good opportunity to level the scores on the break.

However, the equaliser came on 66 minutes when Joe Howell's header from a corner was parried by Jakovlevs and Ryan Thomas headed it home.

The game became heated as Sultan, who appeared to have been blocked, and Thomas had an altercation in front of the McNulty Stand, resulting in a free-kick to the visitors.

The referee got out a yellow card but, after a long consultation with his assistant, showed Sultan a red. Not only had Sultan been denied a penalty, he was now dismissed.

The Cobbydalers felt aggrieved and Joe Gaughan’s frustration got the better of him as he was also given his marching orders and Bentham was booked.

The visitors sought all three points with 20 minutes to go but Silsden defended well. Kaine was outstanding, defending with determination and breaking out of defence with pace, while Illingworth was a rock at the back.

Shots were blocked but, with two minutes left on the clock, Howell headed home the winner from a corner.

Silsden wouldn’t lie down as Wademan chased and chased but the nine men had run out of energy. Jakovlevs saved from Simon Everall in stoppage time of which there were ten minutes. It hadn’t been Silsden’s day.

Silsden, who still lead the table by 12 points, hope to bounce back against Bacup Borough at home tomorrow night before hosting Litherland REMYCA on Saturday.

SILSDEN: Jakovlevs, Moses, Kendall, Kaine, Illingworth, Bentham, Barnes, Hancock, Wademan, Gaughan, Sultan. Subs not used: Tomas, Lee, Trueman, Rhodes, Storrie.