TITLE challengers Beeston St Anthony's beat a nervous Ilkley Town team 2-0 at Ben Rhydding on Saturday.

Beeston started the stronger and almost took advantage of Town's nervousness.

It took Town a good ten minutes to settle as they tried to move the ball around but uncharacteristically gave it away on numerous occasions.

Beeston picked their moments to press but both their winger and striker missing good opportunities to give them the lead.

As the half progressed, Town grew into the game, worked hard and competed with Harry Brown bringing out a fine save from the Beeston number one from his curling effort.

With minutes remaining in the half, Adam Davey, who has enjoyed an outstanding season, took a knock.

As Town had to shuffle things around, the confusion led to the opening goal as Beeston worked the ball out to their right winger, who moved forward before releasing his full back who delivered a low and hard cross to the front post.

The Beeston striker deftly flicked the ball around Darren Munday to the advanced midfielder, who found himself in acres of space, and slotted the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

Davey was replaced at half-time and Town re-organised. From the restart Town were almost level, as they enjoyed success down the right hand side from the industrious Matt Whitehead but Beeston defended resolutely to keep the scores level.

The game became scrappy with both teams having half chances but nothing clear cut.

Just as Town started to control possession better and find more space in the Beeston half, disaster struck.

A long ball was allowed to bounce and keeper Tim Edney rushed out to clear but the Beeston winger managed to get his toe there first, poking the ball at Edney who got a touch and then cleared.

The referee, who was eight yards away, signalled nothing but the linesman waved his flag. After a brief consultation, Edney was given a red card for a deliberate handball.

Man of the match Tom Bull, after already playing full back and then centre back during the game, volunteered to don the gloves.

Town tried to adjust and keep an attacking threat, but the formation change left far too much space and created confusion which ultimately led to the second goal.

Beeston broke quickly on the right before delivering to the back post, allowing their winger to slot home to make it 2-0.

Town kept working, but Beeston were strong, organised and never looked like surrendering their advantage.

Town manager Simon Armstrong said: "Beeston have been a top team in this division for the last two decades and this really shows in their togetherness and mentality.

"They have such experience of the so called big games and it really showed today in exposing any weaknesses. They took their opportunities and deserved to win the game.

"I'm disappointed with our performance in possession, we looked nervous, gave the ball away unnecessarily and rushed at times when not under pressure.

"Credit to the players though as they kept working hard, even when down to ten men and kept trying to find a way back into the match.

"I have to hold my hands up and take responsibility for the second goal. We changed to a back three and it put us under far too much pressure and led to us conceding."

This Saturday Town travel to league leaders Carlton Athletic, the only team unbeaten in the league at home.