Red Star’s long stay in the top flight is over

Hebden Royd Red Star were relegated from the Premier Division of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL on Saturday following an abject 6-1 defeat away at title favourites Elland United.

That result, combined with Holmfield’s 2-1 win over AFC Crossleys, means that Red Star will play their football in the second tier for the first time in 40 years next season.

Going into the game, last season’s league and Challenge Cup winners Star knew that a win would guarantee survival regardless of results elsewhere. However, their first half performance effectively ended any hopes of a shock victory.

The absence of key personnel meant Red Star had a change of formation but they struggled to get to grips with it and were a goal down inside the opening 10 minutes as Elland’s central midfielder Vaughan Boon crashed an unstoppable free kick in off the bar from 25 yards.

That lead was doubled shortly afterwards, as centre forward Mark Kelsey got across Glynn Claxton to head home from a corner.

The free-scoring Kelsey then suffered a cut above his eye which looks certain to rule him out of Elland’s final three matches, as they look for the two wins they need to seal the silverware.

Star failed to get a foothold in the game and found themselves four down at the interval. First, a swift Elland move was well finished on the right hand side by the on-rushing Martin Boon and then a scuffed shot from the left hand side was turned home by lurking centre forward Jake Bradbury from six yards out.

Star reverted to 4-4-2 after the break, with Scott Clarke coming on to replace the injured Liam Barrett, and Dave Whitehouse’s men seemed more comfortable with the change in system.

It could not prevent Elland from adding a fifth midway through the half, however. Claxton raced from his goal to force Bradbury out wide, only to be beaten by the Elland man’s shot.

A sixth was added shortly afterwards, as a ball in from the left was turned home at the far post by Bradbury, who was completing his hat-trick.

Star did manage a consolation in the final moments as Harry West’s mis-hit cross from the right resulted in the ball floating over the Elland goalkeeper and dropped under the bar.

Losing streaks at either end of the campaign ultimately cost Whitehouse’s men their Premiership status, and they will have to regroup quickly if they are to challenge for promotion next season in a highly competitive first division.

Holmfield ensured their survival in a largely disappointing season, after their third place finish 12 months ago, with a 2-1 home success against neighbours AFC Crossleys.

Goals from Danny Patchet and Hayden Gee did the trick.

Although Patchet missed a golden chance to put more daylight between the teams late on, his end-of-season goals after returning from eight months in Tenerife have proved vital to Holmfield.

Two goals from Damian Watkins gave Stump Cross a 2-1 success at Greetland and enabled them to move above their hosts into fourth place.

TOMORROW

Premier Division: Calder 76 v Elland United (referee, M.Beard), Warley Rangers v Stump Cross (M.Redmile).

Division One: Copley United v Sowerby Bridge (W.Cotton).