Calder ‘76 pulled off the result of the season and breathed life into the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL title race with a 1-0 home win over Midgley United on Saturday.
Ricky Topham’s penalty with 15 minutes left ended leaders Midgley’s 39-game unbeaten league run, spanning almost two years, and lifted enigmatic Calder off the bottom.
It meant Midgley stayed 10 points clear of Stump Cross, who were on cup duty, and they now need to win their remaining four games to be sure of back-to-back titles after their first division success last year.
Midgley boss Craig Gee said Calder had “totally deserved” their derby victory, even though his side had started the better and Tom Booth had missed a couple of opportunities.
Topham and Remi Allen started to cause the visitors problems and Simon Stansfield and Irfan Afzal gained the upper hand in midfield after the break.
Calder had a couple of efforts blocked on the line and forced Steve Butterworth into some good saves before the spot kick for handball finally settled it.
Holmfield stayed two points ahead of Sowerby United in the battle to beat the drop after a 2-2 draw between the pair.
Visitors Sowerby started brightly, giving the home defence a torrid time, and it was no surprise when the impressive Corey Henderson weaved his way through several challengers before slotting the ball into the corner of the net.
Minutes later it was 2-0, Joe Swallow beating his marker before picking out Lee Barber, who cleverly flicked the ball home.
It was all Sowerby but they were pegged back when Holmfield were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Mick Palethorpe stroked the ball round the wall and into the net.
Sowerby were awarded a penalty when Henderson was brought down but Lee Barber’s weak effort was saved by Craig Lobley.
Paddy Fitzgibbon pulled Holmfield level and Danny Kirman started to dictate in midfield for the hosts.
However, a Sowerby side well led by Ryan Brook regrouped and pressed hard again with Henderson going close and a late penalty shout turned down.
In Saturday’s other Premier game, Elland United drew level on points with third-placed Ryburn United after continuing their excellent form with a 4-2 win away to Warley Rangers. Mark Kelsey got two of their goals.
Ryburn had drawn 1-1 at home to Greetland last Friday with Christian Silkstone on target for the hosts and Danny Dorward scoring for Greetland.
Division One title favourites Hebden Royd Red Star completed their home league campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over bottom side Mixenden United.
Goals from Joe Januszczyk, Liam Barrett and an own goal meant Dave Whitehouse’s side maintained their four point lead at the top with four games to go.
On a dry and rutted surface, Red Star were immediately in the ascendancy and efforts from Januszczyk and Danny Gilfillan were ruled not to have crossed the line before being clawed away by the visiting ‘keeper.
Mixenden were reduced to 10 men when one of their forwards limped off after 20 minutes and they went behind when Januszczyk powered home a low free kick.
Chris Garbutt barren spell went on when the ‘keeper rushing off his line to deny the striker.
Tom Garland’s low cross resulted in the ball being bundled into his own net by a defender under pressure from Danny Lumb and Barrett sealed victory when he picked up Harry West’s inside ball and his weak shot squirmed from the grasp of the ‘keeper and into the net.
Sowerby Bridge stayed second with a 4-2 win away to Salem, but it was far from plain sailing.
Visiting boss Mick Ellis had warned his side that Salem would launch the ball forward for Nick Green to chase and that is just what happened.
Green duly collected the ball and lobbed the opening goal after 15 minutes.
Five minutes later the Salem front man ran through and was brought down by Raiko Jovanovik, Green scoring from the free kick.
Bridge scored two quick goals to get into the contest - a Lee Wood header at the back post and a Michael Rigby goal after a Wood charge down straight from the kick off.
Bridge applied relentless pressure in the second half and after numerous misses the prolific Rigby eventually produced two more goals.
Wadsworth retained their outside hopes of promotion with a 1-0 home win over Northowram.
The first half was so flat that it would not have disturbed a spirit level but Sam Cartwright put the home side ahead after five minutes with a scuffed shot from outside the area which James Bunn misjudged as it crept inside the post, a call of “wide” from a team mate not helping his cause.
Alex O’Keefe almost equalised two minutes later but was denied by the keeper and the remainder of the half was replete with misplaced passes and long hopeful balls that missed their intended target by some distance.
The Rams stirred themselves in the second half, O’Keefe going close from Matthew Rushworth’s long ball and Danny Rushworth heading wide from Paul Glew’s cross.
Wadsworth hit the underside of the bar but were lucky not to concede a penalty when O’Keefe appeared to be scythed down as he took the ball past the keeper.
Ryburn United Reserves moved six points clear of Mixenden at the bottom after Gaz Robertshaw got the only goal of the game against Denholme United, who continue to plunge down the table.
There were chances at both ends, Jamie Walsh making some good saves for Denholme.
Elland Allstars were surprisingly held 2-2 by hosts Stainland United and lost third spot to Wadsworth.
Warley Rangers Reserves’ hopes of catching Sowerby Bridge Reserves at the top of Division Two were just about extinguished when they lost 2-0 at home to their Greetland counterparts.
However, they look booked for the runners-up spot after Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves could only draw 1-1 away to Shelf United Reserves with a Kane Broadbent goal.
In Division Three, Denholme United Reserves clinched promotion by winning their final match of the season 5-0 at home to Volunteer Arms Reserves.
They started nervously but scored twice in the first half and it was plain sailing after the break. Guy Flanagan, Phil Poole, Damian Allen and substitutes Lee Kelly and Adam Gill got their goals.
Denholme are now top but will be overhauled by Calder ‘76 Reserves if Calder win or draw their crunch final contest against promotion rivals Spring Hall Celtic.
Spring Hall kept alive their slim hopes of second spot with a 3-0 home win against Savile Arms.
Premier Division: Holmfield AFC v Copley United (S.Adams), Ryburn United v Shelf United (M.Beard), Stump Cross v Calder 76 (W.Cotton).
Division One: Hx Irish Centre v Denholme United (R.Walker), Northowram v Wadsworth United (R.Varley).
Division Two: Elland United Res v AFC Crossleys Res (P.Higgins), Greetland AFC Res v Sowerby Bridge Res (J.Hallos), Midgley United Res v Warley Rangers Res (M.Edwards).