It looks a straight battle between Stump Cross and Ryburn United for title honours in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL after Midgley United’s hopes were seemingly dashed on Saturday.
“That’s the end of it really,” said Midgley boss Craig Gee after his reigning champions had conceded a double to Stump, losing both games 3-2.
A strong wind and bobbly pitch at Shroggs Park made life difficult for the leading pair.
Stump started the better and missed a chance or two before Midgley started to warm to their task, Jason Cartlidge’s effort skimming the bar.
Stump took the lead five minutes before half time when leading scorer Damian Watkins produced a smart finish from a ball knocked in low.
Midgley were looking to the returning George Bamford for goals in the absence of broken-foot victim Tom Booth and he delivered 10 minutes into the second half and again with 10 minutes left.
However, Stump scored twice in between through Ash Ackroyd at the back post and Ben Hiley, following a rare error from ‘keeper Steve Butterworth.
Fourth-placed Calder ‘76 were beaten 2-1 away to resurgent King Cross Warley, Gav Fleming’s goal being insufficient against one from Andrew Hudson and an own goal.
Elland United won away for the third successive week, this time by 4-1 at Sowerby United, who had been unbeaten in five.
Elland surged into a 2-0 lead in 10 minutes against their much-changed hosts through Dean Lawrence and Martin Boon.
A third from the penalty spot from Boon piled of the misery for Sowerby.
Sowerby got into the game in the second half with Daniel Boyd and Joe Swallow impressing.
Chances were missed before Lee Barber and Jordan Manning linked up to set up Swallow, who pulled one back.
However, Dave Swiss collected the Sowerby keeper’s clearance 40 yards from goal and lobbed the stranded custodian.
The relegation picture became no clearer with the two games involving the bottom four sides finishing in draws.
Copley United and Sowerby Bridge drew 2-2 at Savile Park with the visitors hitting the under side of the bar late on.
Copley took the lead midway through the first half with a Gary Ash penalty following a push.
Dean Fulton equalised with a header when he got to the ball at the edge of the area before home ‘keeper Paul Drake.
However, Lee Anderson made it 2-1 to the home side with his side’s second spot kick, this time for a foul.
Bridge lost Jimmy Sweeney with a dislocated collar bone and were kept out by Drake until the 75th minutes when Chris Doyle converted one of a few one-on-one opportunities for the visitors.
Holmfield remain two points adrift at the bottom after a 3-3 draw against Hebden Royd Red Star.
The home side were denied from what appeared to be a good early penalty shout but Jamie Keegan gave them the lead with Star appealing in vain for offside.
Chris Garbutt’s header made it 1-1 but Keegan restored Holmfield’s lead before half time.
Red Star were failing to take their chances and when Gareth Gaukroger scored with a fine header from a corner Holmfield looked set for a rare victory with a 3-1 lead.
However, Ben Norman closed the gap with 15 minutes left, after James Rawlinson had flicked on Pat Thomas’s long throw, and Lewis Cockroft rounded the ‘keeper and applied a fine finish to even things up.
Denholme United boosted their hopes of a top three finish in Division One with a 2-0 home win over Wadsworth United.
Danny Morelee 15th goal of the season and Michael Midgley’s eighth did the trick against opponents battling hard to stay in the section.
Sowerby Bridge Reserves increased Greetland Reserves’ relegation fears with a last minute winner from Luke Maguire at Walton Street.
Bridge won 3-2 with two goals from Michael Rigby on his return from injury, Oliver Jefferson and Tom Wall getting Greetland’s goals.
Halifax Irish Centre picked up another point in their relegation fight when they drew 3-3 at home to Ryburn United Reserves but really they needed three in their penultimate game.
Calum Cook scored twice and Chris Green got the other for Irish while Gareth Robertshaw, Joe Thompson and Richard Redhead netted for Ryburn.
Stainland are breathing a little easier after winning their next-to-last game of the season by 2-1 at home to Elland Allstars.
Connor Bell predictably got Elland’s goal but Karl Jowett and Paul Campbell gave Stainland the edge and they climb to sixth.
AFC Crossleys resumed their title quest after a week’s break with a routine 2-0 win away to bottom side Sowerby United Reserves.
The wind was a big factor and Sowerby had it in their favour in a goalless first half.
The table-toppers were made to wait until midway through the second half before making the breakthrough and Chris Woodhouse then scored twice in quick succession.
Midgley United Reserves avenged an earlier defeat at the hands of derby rivals Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves in Division Two.
Midgley were deserved 2-0 victors with goals from Joe Elwin and Tom Rawnsley.
A third 2-0 scoreline in the section went the way of Shelf United Reserves, who beat visitors Denholme Reserves with goals from James Broadbent and James Millar.
Andy Bottomley, King Cross Warley Reserves’ leading scorer, bagged two more as his side made it a good day at Calder’s expense, winning the second teams’ contest 4-1.
League newcomers West Central secured promotion in only their second season in existence by clinching the runner-up spot in Division Three with a hard-fought 1-0 win over St Columbus.
The pressure was on Central as the fixture was their last of the season and they knew anything short of a win would leave second spot available for Shelf FC to grab.
Saints, playing with the wind at their backs, tested ‘keeper Habib Ahmed with several long range shots.
West Central struggled to get into their stride and Awais Haroon had their the only shot on target in the first half but it was expertly kept out by the Saints keeper.
Turning round at 0-0, the goal Central needed came in tremendous fashion. They have counter-attacked in devastating fashion on numerous occasions this season and did it again.
Midfielder Hassan Ahmed unleashed a long range shot which sent the ‘keeper scrambling. He was only able to parry the ball into the path of Zameer Asif, who cut the ball back across the six yard box for Bilal Shiraz to smash home.
Promotion clinched a fine turnaround from Central, who were in danger of folding when they lost heavily to subsequent champions Brighouse Sports in their opener and needed a new manager after six games, ‘keeper Habib Ahmed taking over.
Shelf’s chance perished when they were beaten 3-0 at home by Brighouse while Savile Arms were 3-1 winners away to Salem Reserves in the other game.
Salem’s last game of the season had an air of anti-climax about it, a strong wind making the game almost farcical.
Savile had the elements in their favour in the first half and took a 3-0 lead in spite of the efforts of captain Rob Worthington and home man of the match Howard Walker.
A Connah Judson went in with the aid of a huge deflection, skipper Tom White hit a superb second from 20 yards and Judson cashed in when Worthington and ‘keeper Steve Hawksworth left a bouncing ball over the top to each other.
Josh Skinner, pushed up front, quickly got a goal back in the second half but chances were missed before Savile got on top again and saw the game out comfortably.
So Salem’s season ended in another defeat, but at least they have been competitive in every game they have played, unlike the previous three seasons when they have been on the end of some serious thrashings.