Garforth 1 Eccleshill United 2
Lee Turner was on target with a late penalty, but it proved too late to give any hope of a comeback.
In truth the result flattered the lacklustre Miners who created few chances and looked shaky at the back, and it was only the visitors' poor finishing that spared us from a hammering.
That said, Garforth were quickest off the blocks and the fifth minute saw Mitch Hamilton find the net with a curling strike, but the 'goal' was disallowed for an apparent push by Dan Williams on goalkeeper Harry Stead. There was a chance for Eccleshill's Khurram Shazad on 11 mins when Max Elliott went down injured, Shazad putting his shot wide of the far post. It was heartbreak for the midfielder making his debut after signing from Liversedge last month, who had to be carried off the field. A defensive reshuffle saw Joe Colley replace him. Five minutes later there was a further blow for Rob Hunter's side when poor defending allowed the visitors to open the scoring. From a left wing cross, Chris Lever was allowed two bites of the cherry in the six yard box to head straight at Toby Wells, then head the rebound into the net.
Town struggled to handle the pace of the visitors down the flanks, and Shazad came close to doubling the lead on 15 mins when he fired just wide from the edge of the box. With our attacks breaking down in the final third, the remaining chances of the half fell to the Eagles. Charlie Flaherty saw a strike headed off the line on on 36 mins, before Aran Basi's free-kick in a dangerous position was fired well over the bar.
Stead was finally tested two minutes after the break when he clawed away Colley's 25-yard drive after good play by Hamilton and Williams. On 58 mins Wells saved a low shot from Flaherty when supplied by Shazad. Town's attacking play was at least improved on the first half, but a bigger hole was dug on 62 mins when Colley was robbed of the ball 30 yards from goal by Lever who gleefully fired past a stranded Wells into the empty net.
There were shouts for a penalty from the visitors on 71 mins for what looked like a push by Aiden Kearsley on substitute Tom Dugdale, but referee Leo Howard waved play on. Substitute Jake Thompson was unlucky not to make it three moments later when he headed against the crossbar, before more suspect defending let him in on 76 mins to lob a stranded Wells, but thankfully clear the bar also. The midfielder was in on the chances yet again four minutes after when he found himself free on the right, but Alex Low was there to clear his low effort off the line. On 82 mins Jassim Alali almost added his name to this season's long list of former Town players to score against us when he put a low shot wide, before teammate Thompson dragged a shot wide of the far post when set up by Flaherty.
On 87 mins there was finally something for home supporters to cheer when Lee Turner was pulled down just inside the box by Stead. The midfielder stepped up himself for the resulting penalty and found the net with a well-taken strike to reduce the arrears. There were appeals for a second penalty in injury time when Alali looked to have handled Hamilton's delivery, but this time Mr Howard wasn't swayed.
A deserved win for our Bradford neighbours to round off a disappointing festive period for Rob Hunter's side who slide to 14th in the table. Things can only get better in 2019, but we'll have to do it the hard way in January with three out of four games coming against promotion-chasing sides. The first of those is a local derby here at the Bannister Prentice Stadium against Yorkshire Amateur next Saturday (kick-off 3pm).