Illingworth St Mary’s and Ryburn United are vying for early favouritism in the Halifax AFL title race after winning Saturday’s biggest games.
Saints, last season’s middle section champions, inflicted a first Premier Division defeat of the season on Midgley United, winning 4-2 on the 4G at Trinity Academy.
Ryburn won 4-1 away to Calder ‘76 at Luddenden Foot in the battle of last season’s top two.
Midgley had the better of the opening 30 minutes and Joe Gibson missed a couple of chances from corners.
Illingworth improved and struck twice in a five minute spell after the break through Gareth Gaukroger and Phil Livesey.
The visitors switched to three at the back and promptly conceded two more goals, scored by Gaukroger and Luke Prosser, but then hit back with an Andrew Butterworth double to breathe life into the game.
However, they were unable to bridge the gap any further.
The game at Foot was much close than the score suggests.
Calder were 1-0 up after 70 minutes, Remi Allen having scored from the edge of the box midway through the first half.
The hosts missed two good chances to extend their lead while Calder’s stand-in ‘keeper Steve Hope had just one save to make.
Numbers and strength in depth eventually told.
Ryburn had three quality replacements while Calder, having already plundered two players from the reserves, had one.
Visiting front pair Christian Silkstone and Tom Hiley each scored two goals as Ryburn emerged relieved winners.
Warley stay second, two points behind Illingworth, in spite of being held 4-4 by their bogey side Greetland at Shroggs Park.
They had stand-in ‘keeper Lee Goodall dismissed after five minutes for bringing down a striker when clean through.
Skipper Anson James went in goal but was beaten by Craig Taylor’s scuffed penalty.
Five minutes later veteran Chris Green spotted James way out of his goal and lobbed him from 35 yards.
James was then injured in a 50/50 challenge and gave the gloves to Reece Kendall after just 15 minutes.
Martin Boon’s pile driver got Warley back in it and captain Brandon Gilling smashed the ball into the top corner to make it 2-2 on the stroke of half time.
Kendall was left out of position as Charlie Cliff rolled the ball into an empty net from 12 yards and Greetland went 4-2 up on the hour through the evergreen Karl Jowett.
However, Rangers got a lifeline when Anthony Campbell’s cross evaded everyone and bounced into the net.
Minutes later it was all square as Dan Kirman met Campbell’s free kick with an unstoppable header.
Jowett had two fantastic chances to win it for Greetland late on.
Copley United picked up their first point in a 2-2 draw away to unbeaten Hebden Royd Red Star, who were lacking strike pair Lewis Cockroft and Jack Gormley.
Tom Barcley’s penalty divided the teams at half time but Lee Worrall struck twice to give Copley the lead.
Richard Laycock got Star on terms with 10 minutes left and might have grabbed a last-minute winner.
Division One leaders Sowerby Bridge were 11-0 winners away to Greetland Reserves with the help of four goals from Oliver Coates and three from Damien Watkins.
Shelf FC also made it five wins out of five with a 6-5 win away to Ryburn Reserves.
Holmfield are third after a 2-1 home win over Brighouse Sports and Elland Allstars are fifth after a 5-2 home success over Calder ‘76 Reserves.
Salem registered their first win at the expense of Midgley Reserves, long-serving Liam Huson scoring a hat-trick in a 5-1 success.
Ivy House and Junction Inn have a maximum 18 points at the head of Division Two.
Ivy House swept aside Crossleys Reserves 12-1 with the help of four goals from Josh Brown while Junction had to settle for a more modest 3-2 win away to Salem Reserves.
Andrew Wright scored early on and Junction missed chances before Bryan Barkham rounded the keeper to make it 2-0.
Darren Barkham missed a great chance before a Junction mix up allowed Nick Green to pull one back.
Reece Rowley restored the two goal cushion but in the last minute a long throw was dropped by the Junction keeper at the feet of Green, who got his side’s second.
Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves stayed on the heels of the top two with a 4-2 win against Sowerby United Reserves.
Saints started strongly and created several chances but strikers Tom Holroyd and Tom Mcgregor couldn’t find the net.
Against the run of play Sowerby took the lead with quick goals from Aiden Green and Lee Barber.
Illingworth kept creating chances and pulled level just before the break through a Robbie Sinclair header and a Josh Langan deflected shot.
Saints regained the lead through a Harvey Partington 30 yarder before Tom Kershaw wrapped things up.
Rory Thickett was a stand out performer for Sowerby whilst Tom McGregor created lots of chances for Illingworth in a fine game well refereed by Andy Gee.
St Columba’s have had an indifferent start but they were too strong for a newly formed Plummet Line side as they cruised to a 3-0 victory.
Saints went ahead when striker Vinny O’Shea latched on to Andy Sandell’s through ball and scored at the second attempt.
O’Shea then played captain Ryan O’Neill through and he calmly lifted the ball over Martyn Brown in the Plummet Line goal to double Saints advantage.
Saints keeper Maccauley Richardson made a great finger tip save from long range and had to react quickly to keep out a George Cook header from close range, but other than that had a quiet afternoon.
Saints killed the game off with 15 minutes to go when O’Neill won a challenge 30 yards out and slid the ball through to man of the match Ben Caldwell, who smashed the ball into the bottom corner.