Ryburn’s Silky-smooth success

Ryburn United showed their intention to be key players in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL title race with a 10-1 annihilation of champions Elland United.

Chrisian Silkstone showed the way with six goals - most of them from close range - as United ran riot after leading 3-0 at the break.

Elland were hard hit by injuries and suspensions but still made the early running. However, their defence played high up the pitch and were undone by the visitors’ speedy front pair of Silkstone and Rob Gerrard.

Gerrard went through one-on-one with the keeper to open the scoring and a brace from Silkstone put dayluight between the teams.

Silkstone continued to add to his tally throughout the second half with the visitors other goals coming from Nathan Hargreaves, who rounded off the game’s best move, and Ed Hyland with a solid 15-yard drive.

Ryburn still had numerous players missing but a reinforced defence of Oliver Brearley, Gary Hodgson, returning skipper Adam Sharp and Owen Wilkinson was watertight apart from when Hodgson played Elland on side for Mark Kelsey to grab a consolation.

Ryburn are third, one point behind Stump Cross who were left to rue two penalty misses in the space of five minutes as they lost more ground on leaders Midgley United, 5-3 winners at Shelf.

Damian Watkins blazed one over the bar and Matthew Hoyle’s effort was well saved by Reece Richardson as Stump were held 1-1 away to Sowerby United.

They are now six points behind Midgley, who won 5-3 at Shelf United, having played one game fewer.

Midgley took care of business at Shelf Park with a dazzling opening 40 minutes up the slope, in which they scored five times without reply.

George Bamford set the ball rolling for Midgley with two goals in the first seven minutes, finishing from six yards after assists from strike partner Tom Booth.

Darren Nelson made it 3-0 from a corner on 20 minutes and Bamford and Booth continued to plague the home defence, Booth getting the visitors’ fourth.

Bamford completed his hat-trick with a neat finish into the bottom corner after good work from Ian Hudson and Booth.

Shelf got one back through Billy Grogan and looked a better side after they had switched things round, reducing the deficit further with a looping header before Grogan scored a lucky third for the hosts when Steve Butterworth’s clearing header went in off the striker’s shoulder with 10 minutes left.

In a pulsating game at Ryburn Valley High School, Stump started strongly with Liam Brompton and Chris Gent key men while Ryan Brook led the Sowerby reply.

Stump’s fist half penalty failures seem to lift Sowerby, who matched Stump in all departments with Danny Boyd and Ashton Richardson tireless workers.

With 20 minutes remaining Stump failed to deal with Ashton Richardson’s long throw and Lee Barber, with his back to goal, cleverly lobbed the Stump keeper to put Sowerby ahead.

Stump pressed but were having little joy against a resolute home defence until a rare moment of indecision enabled Hoyle to fire Stump level with five minutes remaining.

Sowerby almost snatched a dramatic winner when Chris Punda’s free kick from 25 yards just cleared the bar with the last kick of the game.

Copley United are up to sixth after registering their third win since promotion, beating Warley Rangers 3-1 away.

They dominated from the off and were soon 1-0 up when Paul Drake nodded home in a goalmouth scramble.

Their second goal came from a Jack Teasdale cross, the Warley keeper dropping the ball and Ben Waterworth tapping home.

Warley came out in the second half with all guns blazing and were rewarded with a goal from Andrew Zolly.

Plenty of attacking play from both teams followed but Copley made the points safe following a free kick 30 yards out, Jack Teasdale firing home with his left foot.

Greetland are also on the up, making it six wins out of their last seven with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to a good, well organised Calder side.

With top scorer Mark Heppenstall a late withdrawal, young striker Jonny Crowther got a start and his early effort was tipped over by the Calder ‘keeper.

Great defending from Asa Lumb and Andy Hurcombe kept Calder at bay and Greetland took the lead on 30 minutes when Paul Gee sent Danny Dorward away down the left and his cross was side-footed home by Carl Ainley.

Adam Oldfield was denied by a good save but Calder dominated at the start of the second half and Remi Allen set to Irfan Afzal to make it 1-1.

The introduction of Mickey Conroy boosted Greetland who got the winner when Tom Wall ran at the Calder defence, Ainley’s shot from the edge of the area was too strong for the home keeper to hold and the tireless Jonny Crowther pounced.

Calder threw caution to the wind but Mark Hindle could have put the icing on the cake for Greetland in the dying seconds, his header narrowly missing the target.

Denholme United were beaten at home for the second successive week in Division One, meaning it looks a straight battle between Hebden Royd Red Star and Sowerby Bridge for Division One honours.

Wadsworth were 3-1 winners at Denholme’s Foster Park, following up Salem’s high-scoring win there, but Red Star and Bridge both registered hard-fought wins on their travels.

Denholme had plenty of the play but came up against an inspired goalkeeper in Joel Greenwood, who shared the visiting man of the match honours with his brother and central midfielder Zac.

Play was even in the opening stages. Michael Midgley gave the hosts the lead midway through the first half but Adam Brown replied quickly from inside the six yard box.

Jonathan Gibson gave Wadsworth the lead on the break before half time and the visitors were pinned back for long periods in the second half.

However, Gibson put more daylight between the teams with a header from a Max Crossley cross.

Denholme pressed hard but just couldn’t get the ball past Joel Greenwood for a second time.

James Chadwick scored the only goal of the game at Stainland for Red Star, who maintained their four point lead at the top.

The opening stages were scrappy and the first action of real note brought what proved to be the winning goal.

The ball was sprayed to the right for Harry West, whose deep cross was met with an attempted bicycle kick from Chris Garbutt. The front man failed to make a telling connection, but from a sitting position prodded the ball to James Chadwick on the edge of the area, and he took a touch before thumping home into the top right hand corner.

Star remained on top, but were thankful to returning skipper Glynn Claxton for keeping out a speculative long range effort which looked to be dipping just under the bar. At the other end West’s first time curling effort was just too high.

The second half was more even. Garbutt drilled a low shot narrowly wide and Stainland’s left winger fired just over from 15 yards.

Star were under pressure during the final quarter of an hour but Stainland were unable to create a chance of note.

Bridge won 5-3 at Northowram, fullback Dean Park scoring a late hat-trick in the space of 11 minutes after being pushed up front by boss Mick Ellis.

Two basic errors from the normally reliable ‘keeper James Bunn helped swing the game Bridge’s way after they had surrendered a one goal interval lead in the face of an excellent Rams performance.

Neither keeper was especially troubled in an even first half. Bridge were well organised playing up the slope and must have gone into the break in confident mood with a one goal lead.

Adam Barlow hit the bar in the first five minutes and fullback Matthew Whitworth stole behind the home defence and his cross was turned in by Martin Bates in the 23rd minute.

A corner in the first minute of the second half led to strong claims from Bridge that the ball had crossed the line before being gathered by Bunn.

However, Rams were level after 51 minutes when a long throw from James Fearnley, who had an excellent game, was forced in at the far post by Danny Rushworth.

Substitute Alex O’Keefe made an immediate impact, his pinpint cross giving Rushworth a free header which gave the Rams the lead.

The hosts appealed vehemently for offside as Lee Wood’s firm finish brought the visitors level with 15 minutes left but the hard working Chris Conroy sent in O’Keefe to make it 3-2.

Bridge were level two minutes later when Bunn spilled a harmless looking cross and Dean Park prodded home.

Bunn redeemed himself with a superb one-handed save to keep out Bates’ spectacular volley but eight minutes from time a complete miskick gave Park the easiest of chances. Park added another close to the end.

Back-to-form Salem went above Denholme into third after a 3-2 win away to Mixenden and the section’s other two games were draw, Ryburn United Reserves and Halifax Irish Centre boosting their survival bids against Elland Allstars and Volunteer Arms respectively.

Halifax Athletic secured a hard fought win in their first game back since well before Christmas with a 1-0 win against second-placed Warley Rangers Reserves in Division Two.

Halifax started the brighter but it took until midway through the half for them to make a break through, when man of the match Nick Burgess stabbed home from close range following a corner.

Warley were unlucky not to gain a point after a second half fightback in which they spurned several opportunities and saw Halifax keeper Martin Dawson make a fantastic save.

The result was good for Sowerby Bridge Reserves, who won their derby game against Sowerby United Reserves 6-1 with the help of two goals from Martin Rigby and are now four points clear.

Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves are the other team firmly in the title hunt, Tom Garland getting the only goal of their game at home to Elland United Reserves.

Midgley United Reserves were beaten by the odd goal again, this time 3-2 at the hands of visitors AFC Crossleys.

Crossleys drew first blood but a curling effort from Ryan Jeffries made it 1-1.

Crossleys regained the lead with Midgley claiming that the ball had gone out of play and although Phil Moyles got a second for the hosts, several one-on-one misses proved costly as the visitors emerged victorious.

It was top versus bottom in Division Three and leaders Calder ‘76 were given a real scare by their hosts Salem Reserves before emerging 2-1 winners.

The teams have served up several close games over the years, but Calder have stepped up a gear this season with several players arriving from Crossleys.

They duly took the lead from a free kick in the first minute. Salem’s wall was slow to react to keeper Ian Fletcher’s commands and Dean Hans poked the ball home when it was delivered into the box.

Salem then matched their visitors and it was against the run of play when Calder got a second after the break, Craig Gladwin leaving Salem’s back four for dead with a lightning run and applying the finish.

Salem boss Matty Stones introduced speedy Mehmet El Trappo and he linked with Simon Herbert to create an opening for CJ Waddington to fire home over the keeper from the edge of the box.

This was the start of a purple patch for the hosts. A Waddington effort hit the underside of the bar and went down but referee Phil Crouch decided it hadn’t crossed the line.

In-form Shelf FC stay four points behind Calder from one game less after winning by the odd goal in nine at home to Volunteer Arms Reserves.