Hebden Royd Red Star’s opening day win over King Cross Warley in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL is looking increasingly significant with both sides in blistering form since.
Unbeaten Red Star extended their lead at the top to three points after coming from behind to defeat 10-man Elland United 5-1 on Saturday.
And King Cross Warley made it five wins on the trot in league and cup by slamming visitors Holmfield 5-0 in a display boss Neil Grogan rated their best of the season so far.
Two goals from Eddy Harvey, along with strikes from Tom Garland, Bob Cockroft and Chris Garbutt, saw Dave Whitehouse’s Red Star side recover from a shaky start.
The hosts began sloppily and fell behind after 10 minutes when a long throw from the right was allowed to bounce inside the box where it was pounced upon by Jake Bradbury, who fired past Glynn Claxton from close range.
The setback seemed to shock Star into life and they were level midway through the half when Garland was given ample time and space inside the box to turn and shoot low into the right hand corner.
Shortly before half time came the game’s real turning point as James Chadwick ran onto Daniel Lumb’s through ball and touched it beyond the goalkeeper, who clattered into the midfielder for a clear foul.
The referee deemed it a goalscoring opportunity and dismissed the ‘keeper, before Harvey piled on the misery for the visitors by burying the penalty low into the corner.
The visitors barely had time to regroup before the advantage was stretched further, Cockroft running onto Ben Norman’s pass and firing home for his seventh goal of the season to make it 3-1 at the interval.
Five minutes after the break, Harvey bagged his second to effectively end the game as a contest.
Cockroft sprung the offside trap, rounded the makeshift ‘keeper 35 yards from goal and his wayward effort fortunately found its way to Harvey, who composed himself before drilling the ball past the covering defender on the line.
Claxton made two impressive saves, flying low to his right to tip away a long range drive that was arrowing into the corner before denying an Elland attacker with a fine save one on one.
Other than that Star were comfortable and extended their lead thanks to an excellent finish from substitute Garbutt.
Two minutes after coming on in place of Garland, he chased a ball into the left hand channel before cutting back onto his right foot and curling his effort up and over the stranded ‘keeper, the ball dropping just inside the far post.
Warley played really well against a decent Holmfield side, Dave Maguire giving them the lead after a one-two with Josh Prestige.
Carl Amos doubled the lead before the break and fine strikes from Chris Hiley and Tom Hiley dashed Holmfield’s hopes of a fightback.
Johnny Burston completed the scoring with a header into the top corner after Carl Amos’s run down the left.
Calder ‘76 repeated last season’s win over derby rivals Midgley United to leave the champions playing catch up in fifth place.
Calder were 4-2 winners, helped by excellent performances from Sam Taylor, James Megson, Ricky Topham and ‘keeper Warren Clayton.
Visitors Midgley looked the stronger side early on but Taylor gave Calder the lead on the break.
Craig Gee’s men missed a chance to equalise when Clayton saved Andrew Butterworth’s penalty and it remained 1-0 until the hour mark when Tom Booth crossed from the right and Butterworth produced a smart finish with his left foot.
Super sub Jamie Casey restored Calder’s lead with his first touch but another replacement, James Balmforth, produced a flicked header to set up Calum Rodgers for 2-2 after 70 minutes.
Two goals in the last 10 minutes gave Calder victory. James Megson scored with a diving header at the near post from Gavin Fleming’s cross and with Midgley throwing everyone forward Casey tapped home his second.
Rock solid defence has been the feature of Ryburn United’s play so far and they kept another clean sheet in a 3-0 home success over one of their derby rivals, Sowerby Bridge.
Adam Barlow sprayed the ball around nicely for the visitors but Bridge were simply unable to crack a defence in which Matt Lamb and John Priest have come in to form a solid unit alongside Oliver Brierley and John Wadsworth.
Bridge started well but Ryburn took the lead midway through the first half when Alex Coburn paved the way for Christian Silkstone to hit the ball over the ‘keeper.
Silkstone doubled the lead before half time with a first time effort from the edge of the box and Bridge’s effort then petered out.
Coburn added Ryburn’s third after James Lawton had chipped the ball back in from Reece Uttley’s deep cross.
Copley remain rooted to the foot of the table after a 7-1 home hiding by Stump Cross, for whom Damian Watkins bagged another two goals.
Salem and Denholme United have the only 100 per cent records in Division One after Shelf United tasted defeat for the first time this season.
Salem and Denholme were wide-margin home winners while Shelf, relegated from the Premier last season, lost 6-4 away to Elland Allstars.
Nick Green was among the scorers in Salem’s 4-1 success over Ryburn United Reserves with Adam Gaze, Lee Worrall and an own goal completing the leaders’ tally. Paul Barrett replied.
Connor Bell, like Green one of the league’s leading marksmen, scored five of Allstars goals with Ash Smith getting the other.
Lewis Knagg, James Goodwin, Lee Riley and Adrian Baldwin scored for Shelf.
Denholme United beat visitors Halifax Irish Centre 6-2 to make it three wins out of three.
The scoring was started and finished by brilliant individual goals from Luke Dickinson and Paul Armitage, who both made superb runs through the Irish ranks.
However, victory wasn’t achieved as easily as the score suggests with Irish on terms at 2-2 after 65 minutes, and playing down the Foster Park slope, before the hosts cut loose.
After Dickinson’s opener, Neil Roberts quickly made it 2-0 after good work from Matt Waring.
Gareth Sherwood replied after a defensive mix-up and it stayed 2-1 up to half time, with Denholme forcing a string of corners but being unable to get the ball past in-form ‘keeper Tony Clarke.
Sherwood’s penalty made it 2-2, after a Matthew Beeney foul on 55 minutes, and Clarke then comfortably saved Danny Moralee’s spot kick.
However, Irish’s front three were continually offside and Denholme ran away with the contest.
Waring’s fierce cross was put into his own net by a defender, Roberts completed his hat-trick with two more and Armitage put more daylight between the teams.
Northowram won 2-0 away to Sowerby Bridge Reserves in Division One on a pitch in need of a haircut.
They missed a stack of chances, notable when James Waggett smashed a penalty against the bar two minutes from the break.
Earlier, Danny Rushworth, Chris Conroy and Jake Baker had spurned good opportunities.
Bridge competed well but created little and their best chance came when a long throw-in bounced over James Bunn and drifted narrowly wide of his far post.
Baker’s angled shot was inches wide and the Rams finally took the lead after 58 minutes when the stand-in keeper fumbled Chris Dunne’s shot and Conroy swept in the rebound.
Waggett then tucked away a penalty on 67 minutes after Conroy had been bundled over.
James Bunn did not have a save to make but was relieved to see James Fearnley head off the line.
Dunne missed from point blank range at the other end while the ‘keeper made a superb one-handed save from Paul Glew and then a fine block when Conroy raced clear one-on-one.
Volunteer Arms ran away with their game against Stainland United on Savile Park, winning 5-1.
Stainland drew first blood with a penalty after 10 minutes from Paul Friend, who had been brought down by Aaron Green.
Luke Oldroyd soon equalised but play was even and Arms were grateful to a goal from Jamie Whitehead, who scored after excellent visiting ‘keeper Ryan Severn had made three saves in quick succession.
It was one-way traffic after the break. Jason Varley extended the lead with a header from a Whitehead cross and Greg Thomas and Whitehead both broke through to take Arms clear.
Paul Graham was outstanding up front for the winners.
Greetland Reserves got off the mark at the sixth attempt following promotion with an 8-4 win away to Wadsworth, who now have only Irish below them.
Denholme United Reserves produced a stirring second half fight back to win 4-3 at Sowerby United Reserves in Division Two after trailing 3-0 just before the break.
Sowerby went ahead through when Lee Barber’s cushioned header and Alex Haggerty raced clear and fired home with a superb shot. When Barber, making his first start of the season, made it 3-0 it looked all over but a Lee Kelly goal on the stroke of half time gave Denholme hope.
The visitors attacked from the off in second half and although Callum Ogden was outstanding for Sowerby, Kelly soon pulled another back.
Sowerby found it hard to break through with Damien Gill in great form for Denholme and they were rocked with two minutes remaining when Mick Sharpe made it 3-3.
Then, with the last kick of the game, Guy Flanagan got the winner for Denholme.
AFC Crossleys, Mixenden United and Spring Hall Celtic fill the top three places.
Craig Gladwin scored five times as table toppers AFC Crossleys won 9-2 away to Shelf United Reserves.
Mixenden beat visitors Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves 4-3 with the help of two goals from Travis Allinson while Jasim Salim, Terriq Pervez and Matty Waller helped unbeaten Celtic win 3-1 away to Midgley United Reserves.
Halifax Irish were without a game in the West Riding CA and boss Chris Ellerby produced a cameo performance off the bench for the reserves at home to King Cross Warley Reserves. He scored twice but the visitors won 5-3 with Andy Bottomley also bagging a brace.
Salem Reserves backed up their victory against Elland Allstars with a useful 2-2 draw away to West Central at Calderdale College in Division Three.
Stand-in boss Ian Fletcher saw his team storm in to a two goal lead in the first half with a double from Martin Jenkins, one a fine strike from 20 yards and the other a diving header from a Paul Crabtree cross.
They did, however, lose fullback Nick Lowcock to injury after his studs stuck in the artificial playing surface.
Five minutes of slackness right after the interval resulted in Haroon and Shah putting the hosts back on level terms.
West Central squandered other chances before Salem got back into their stride and Jenkins, Ricky Beaumont and Josh Skinner should have managed a winner between them.
Brighouse Sports won 4-2 at Shelf FC in the battle of the first and third teams.
A bad day for Shelf was completed when second-placed Savile Arms won 9-2 at home to Elland Allstars Reserves with the help of two goals apiece from Richard Bentley, Connah Judson and Dom Jones.