PENISTONE Church reclaimed a share of the lead in the Premier Division of the Northern Counties East League with a 3-0 win at Eccleshill United to end their unbeaten run.

The Eagles had soared through January without tasting defeat after a draw and three consecutive victories, but February began with a home loss to their title-chasing visitors.

Eccleshill were looking to keep their own momentum going and they will have had the best wishes of neighbouring Liversedge, who were looking to overhaul Church so they could re-claim a share of the summit by pulling level with leaders Staveley MW, who were at home to Thackley.

There was so much hinging on the result at the Mitton Group Stadium as the Eagles were also looking to stay above neighbours Thackley, having leapfrogged them with a 2-0 win at Dennyfield the previous Saturday.

Unfortunately the vicious high winds meant that the best of Eccleshill and Penistone would not be seen in the clash. The conditions made it very difficult but the visitors appeared to cope with them much better.

Penistone started well and Eccleshill right back Tyler Marsh was shown a yellow card in the second minute after being forced into a rash challenge as Church pressed. But with the almost gale-force wind behind them in the first half the home side began to grow into the game.

Midway through the first half, Talent Ndlovu tried to curl a shot in on the wind but it went wide, and minutes later Jonny Irving got into a great position but his shot lacked pace and rolled through to visiting keeper Max Dearnley.

A good through ball soon after the half hour mark found Irving but his shot found the outside of the side netting.

Penistone had a chance a minute later when Nathan Keightley raced onto a ball over the top of the Eagles’ defence but, after spotting home keeper Jordan Moorhouse off his line, his attempted chip went horribly wrong.

Ndlovu had a free-kick from near the left touchline later in the half that led to a hearts-in-mouths moment for the Church defence as it dropped in front of Dearnley, who then spilled it but neither Irving nor Nicky Boshell could profit from the keeper’s error.

A later free-kick, also wind-assisted, from Irving tested Dearnley but he did well to parry and then gather. After Lee Elam’s side had failed to use the elements in their favour, Church broke the deadlock just four minutes after the break, and that was definitely wind-assisted as Keightley scored directly from a corner kick.

There was more pressure from the visitors and Andy Ring fired a shot just wide but Penistone did go on to double their lead. Soon after the hour mark another testing Keightley corner was headed on at the near post and Church skipper Danny Howes buried it with a stooping header at the back post.

The Eagles had a great opportunity to make it a tense finish seven minutes from time but Jacob Buchanan’s low free-kick bounced and skidded through the Church six-yard box without getting a touch.

Penistone put the gloss on a good day for them in West Yorkshire in stoppage time when Kieran Ryan’s fine low strike from the edge of the area nestled into the bottom corner.

With Liversedge being held to a draw at promotion rivals Yorkshire Amateur and Thackley earning a point at leaders Staveley, it all added up to a good day for Penistone as they travelled back to South Yorkshire level on points with the Trojans and three points clear of Sedge.