Fresh from an important victory at Robin Hood, Sheeran tweaked his line-up with the hope his team could match up to the opponent’s physicality.
After being overawed early by Leeds City a week ago, Headingley knew the importance of a solid start and with neither team in control it was the hosts that almost struck first. Only a headed clearance from a fierce shot prevented them from taking an early lead. This sparked Beeston into life and they began to control proceedings without really threatening.
In the 25th minute Beeston’s class told, a dangerous ball swung in from the left was met by former ‘Boffin’ Allan who clinically finished with a crisp strike dampening the host’s early optimism.
However, Beeston’s lead didn’t last long as Headingley immediately went in search for an equaliser. A short corner fell invitingly for Keating on the edge of the box and his speculative drive went through a sea of players, before squirming out of the keeper’s hands and across the line.
Buoyed by this Headingley scored a quick fire second. A ball over the top of Beeston’s defence from Salt found Austin who clipped the ball past the onrushing keeper before tapping into an empty net.
This was turning into another topsy-turvy affair and after good work by Beeston’s strikers a fourth goal in as many minutes looked certain but the ball was blazed over when the goal beckoned.
With their unbeaten record to protect Beeston started the second half on the front foot and only an incredible point blank save from Clark pushing a header onto the bar preserved Headingley’s lead.
The hosts did not heed this early warning and Beeston soon restored parity. A quick counter attack found Allan in a pocket of space on the right and his pinpoint cross was dispatched with a bullet header.
Visibly knocked back and with a sense of déjà vu creeping in Headingley survived a series of scares but to their credit they weathered the storm. With the match evenly balanced, Sheeran’s men sprung an attack which was worthy of winning all three points. The ball was sprayed from right to left and after some neat interplay Butcher advanced to the by-line before cutting the ball back for Gledhill to fire past the keeper.
With 20 minutes to go Allan, a constant thorn in his old side did well to work some space in the penalty area, however his goal bound effort was superbly clawed out by Clark.
Sheeran shored things up with three substitutions and as the game opened up Headingley almost snatched another but with the keeper beaten, replacement Trew’s shot was cleared off the line.
The let-off galvanised Beeston and they began to commit players forward but Headingley remained resolute with Williams and Mortimer marshalling a defence that repelled wave after wave of attack.
With just five minutes to go, Beeston’s centre back thought he had spared his team’s blushes when he planted a header on target but once again there was no way past the outstanding Clark.
As the final whistle sounded the players and fans erupted with scenes of celebration. Nine years ago Headingley defeated then top of the table Sherburn to secure their first silverware in the Barkston Ash District Cup, this win against the now treble winners will arguably hold equal significance in the club’s history books.
HAFC: Clark, Butcher, Mortimer, Williams (c), Friend, Keating, Salt, Andrews (Pasque), Gledhill (Calvert), Austin, McKinley (Trew)
Goals: Keating (27), Austin (28), Gledhill (67)
HAFC MOM: Clark & Austin