Rare final date for Sowerby

Northowram celebrate promotion to the Premier Division
Northowram celebrate promotion to the Premier Division

Sowerby United are through to their first cup final since 1990 after a 2-0 success over Mixenden United in the Skircoat Green Physiotherapy Challenge Cup on Saturday.

A solid defensive performance did the trick for them at West Vale.

Mixenden looked anything but a two division lower side as they enjoyed much of the play in the opening 20 minutes with Dan Johnson pulling the strings in midfield.

After soaking up the early pressure, Sowerby started to get into the game with Daniel Boyd and Oliver Smith key men.

Sowerby went in front when a superb free kick from Smith picked out Jordan Manning, who met the ball well and guided it past the advancing ‘keeper.

Sowerby seemed happy to contain with Jake Allott outstanding in keeping Mixenden’s danger man Martin Woodhouse in check.

Travis Allinson was a threat for Mixenden but Sowerby were proving hard to penetrate and they sealed a date with either Copley United or Stump Cross when Lee Barber proved too quick for his marker and crossed for Corey Henderson to score.

Sowerby Bridge are off the bottom of the Haslem Sheppard Halifax AFL’s Premier Division after Oliver Coates scored a dramatic late winner at home to Hebden Royd Red Star.

A second victory since last season’s promotion looked certain when they led 4-2 with five minutes to go.

Star scored a quick brace to leave the game in the melting pot but Coates beat three men from the kick off and buried the ball into the corner of the net to give Bridge a 5-4 success and take them above Holmfield.

Bridge boss Mick Ellis thought his side were good value for the points against a Star side in free fall.

Star led 1-0 after an even first half, their goal coming midway through the first period.

Three goals in five minutes shortly after the break, from Lee Wood (two) and Coates, put Bridge in charge and although Star got a second, Chris Doyle made it 4-2 from Martin Bates’ cross. Then came the exciting finale.

At the top, Midgley United dropped two precious points when Josh Prestige snatched a late equaliser for visitors King Cross Warley.

The leaders were way below their best but led through a Tom Booth goal after half an hour, until Cross fullback Prestige scored from close range at the back post.

Midgley had most of the early possession and missed a few chances, notably Rob Stansfield firing wide from close range.

King Cross had been on a poor run but grew in confidence and after Tom Hiley had brought a good save out of Steve Butterworth, Prestige struck.

Ryburn and Stump Cross both kept clean sheets in solid successes and it now looks as if they could fight it out for the silverware.

Ryburn have the best defensive record in the league and they won 2-0 against fourth-placed Calder ‘76 in spite of giving up ground advantage.

They were helped when Karl Wooliscroft tweaked a hamstring in the warm-up and Calder, who had sent Ben Fairburn to bolster the reserves, lost another key man when Sam Taylor was injured in the early stages of the second half.

Calder had to play with 10 men from then on, having just sent on Jonny Gibson up front, and they would have got back into it but for Ryburn ‘keeper Ash Raynor with Ricky Topham, Gibson and James Megson a threat.

However, their effort petered out and the damage had already been done, goal ace Christian Silkstone and Alex Coburn having scored in the space of 10 minutes towards the end of the first half.

Stump Cross confirmed Greetland’s exit from the title race with a 3-0 win at Goldfields.

Their Tom Hiley struck twice and Damian Watkins got the visitors’ other goal.

Elland United made it three wins on the bounced with a 5-3 victory away to Holmfield, who are now bottom.

Vaughan Boon (two), Martin Boon, Scott Campbell and Dean Lawrence netted for Elland while Jamie Keegan (two) and Danny Kirman replied.

Northowram booked a return to the Premier Division after a long absence by thrashing third-placed Salem 9-1 on Savile Park.

Neil Griffiths’ runaway Division One leaders registering their biggest win of the season and made it 42 goals in their last six games.

With a strong wind at their backs, Salem had the better of the opening 20 minutes but faded and found themselves 4-1 down at half-time.

The direct running and trickery of Alex O’Keefe caused the home defence constant problems and after the boost of an early goal courtesy of Danny King’s header, the Rams gradually gained the upper hand.

Salem drew level when poor marking at a corner allowed Ben Huson to power home a header after 17 minutes but other than Lee Worrall’s lob which bounced on top of the bar and the same player taking the ball too wide after rounding James Bunn, they created very little.

O’Keefe’s persistence set up Chris Conroy to put the Rams ahead and Conroy returned the favour on 23 minutes after being put through by Chris Dunne, O’Keefe’s shot trickling over the line.

O’Keefe’s perfectly-weighted pass resulted in Conroy being hauled down by keeper Steve Hawksworth and dependable penalty taker James Waggett made no mistake.

The Rams dominated the second half and Salem rarely had a sight of goal.

An excellent save from Hawksworth denied King but with both the crocuses and the Rams in full bloom, there was only one winner.

The visitors increased their lead after 54 minutes when a 35 yard volley from Dunne caught Hawksworth off his line. The ball hit the top of the post before rebounding on to the keeper’s back and into the net.

Things got worse for the Salem keeper five minutes later when his mis-kick landed at Conroy’s feet and the leading scorer had the simple task of side-footing into an empty net.

Dunne produced a measured finish, Ross Risdon scored from Archie Griffiths’ excellent ball and 10 minutes from time Hawksworth dropped King’s free kick into the path of the onrushing Paul Glew, who slotted in.

Northowram’s title rivals Shelf United were 5-2 home winners against Volunteer Arms and have chance to make inroads into the Rams’ 15-point lead over the next four weeks.

Volunteer played down the hill at Shelf Park in the first half and took the lead approaching the mid-point of it from a free-kick, Shelf allowing the ball to bounce and Greg Thomas tapping home.

Shelf took little time to reply, Jon Lister sending Mark Hindle away up the line and he crossed for Luke Holmes to head in.

Hindle fired Shelf in front approaching the interval and good work from Elliott Parkinson set up Adie Balding to make it 3-1 on 50 minutes.

Hindle completed a hat-trick for the second week running when he scored twice in quick succession midway through the second half but Thomas had the last word for Volunteer late on with Shelf appealing in vain for offside.

Denholme United have still to play Shelf United twice and they kept alive their slim hopes of second spot with a 5-2 home win over Sowerby Bridge Reserves.

A strong wind blowing up the hill at Foster Park and a bobby pitch made for a very scrappy encounter but Michael Midgley enjoyed himself, scoring four times for the hosts.

Bridge had the elements in their favour and turned round with a 2-1 lead thanks to goals from Richard Pearson and Danny Bugler, Midgley showing his paces to score for Denholme in between.

Denholme stepped up their game after the break and bossed possession. Midgley scored twice more to give them the lead, at which point Bridge surprisingly changed their ‘keeper, taking out a custodian who had made several good saves.

Midgley put more daylight between the teams with his fourth before home ‘keeper Jamie Walshe had his moment of glory. Denholme were awarded an indirect free-kick just outside their box and Walshe, who had a heavy boot, hoofed it forward. The replacement ‘keeper could have left the ball but attempted to save it and only succeeded in palming it into his own net.

The other two games in the division produced only one goal between them. The Elland Allstars versus Ryburn United Reserves game was goalless while Paul Friend’s goal gave Stainland United victory over relegation-threatened Halifax Irish Centre.

Spring Hall Celtic kept the heat on inactive Division Two leaders AFC Crossleys by winning 5-2 at home to Denholme Reserves.

Mohammed Ozair scored twice and Sameer Ahmed, Hussain Farooq and Jonathon Tindall added to the tally as Celtic moved to within a point of Crossleys.

Goals from Keir Watkinson, George Oliver and Jamie Cowans gave Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves a 3-0 home win over Shelf United Reserves while the second strings from King Cross Warley and Calder ‘76 fought out a 2-2 draw.

Brighouse Sports were confirmed Division Three champions without playing on Saturday.

Chasing pair Shelf FC and West Central fought out a 2-2 draw and the home side might have been the happier with that as they have dropped the fewer points in the hunt for the runners-up spot.

Savile Arms beat next-to-bottom St Columbas 3-1 in the section’s other game.