Swallow swoops for Sowerby winner

Gary Ash for Copley (orange) and Luke Kendall for Sowerby United
Gary Ash for Copley (orange) and Luke Kendall for Sowerby United

Man of the match Joe Swallow scored a late winner for Sowerby United, who beat Copley United 3-2 away in the only Premier Division game to go ahead in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL on Saturday.

Torrential lunchtime rain, on top of Friday’s deluge, meant only six out of 20 matches took place.

Sowerby were playing their first game in six weeks but it didn’t show as they attacked from the off at Savile Park, Corey Henderson hitting a post after 30 seconds.

Sowerby were guilty of some glaring misses against the third-from-bottom side but finally found the net when Dan Crossland broke down the left and picked out George Turner, who curled the ball home with an excellent finish.

More chances were missed by Sowerby and they paid the price when a Garry Ash shot was deflected in minutes before the break.

Sowerby continued in the same vein at the start of the second half but Copley dug in and started to push forward.

They shocked Sowerby when good work on the right by Ash resulted in Michael Priestley putting the home side ahead.

This lifted Copley and they enjoyed their best spell of the game but Sowerby ‘keeper Paul Barker pulled off two fine saves and Andrew Wadsworth was a giant at the back for Sowerby.

Sowerby wasted more chances before player manager Garry Boyd, at 49, became a candidate for the oldest scorer in the Premier with a brave header from Oliver Smith’s corner.

Just as it was looking likely to end 2-2, Sowerby gained another corner, Smith delivered a perfect ball and Swallow forced the ball home.

Division One leaders Northowram dropped two more points in a remarkable 6-6 draw at home to Volunteer Arms.

It could have been worse, as they trailed 5-1 after their poorest 45 minutes of the season, and it could have been better as they had strong penalty claims turned down late on.

A determined Volunteers side, playing down the slope, were better in all departments in the opening half as the Rams’ fragmented game was littered with elementary mistakes, wrong options and little sense of urgency.

Luke Aldridge, who caused problems up front throughout, fired Volunteer ahead after four minutes but the Rams drew level 15 minutes later when Mark Eade’s thumping shot, from James Fearnley’s pass, whistled past the keeper.

Volunteer hit back immediately when the Rams failed to properly clear after a session of head tennis in the area and a mix-up between James Fearnley and Danny Rushworth allowed Greg Thomas’ innocuous header to bounce over the line. Four minutes later, defensive uncertainty enabled Aldridge to extend the visitors’ lead and Jamie Whitehead was close to adding a fourth after a smart turn and volley.

Eade was just off target in a rare Rams’ attack but with Volunteers quicker to the ball and dominating play it was no surprise when Aldridge made it 1-4.

Five minutes before half-time and Craig Kemp added a fifth with the Rams at sixes and sevens.

Some very purple prose from manager Neil Griffiths stirred the Rams into action in the second half but against a well-organised Volunteers side they had to wait 20 minutes to reduce the arrears.

Eade was marginally quicker to a 50/50 ball with the keeper, injuring himself in the process, and Chris Conroy bundled home the loose ball.

A comeback looked on the cards when Eade’s header left the Rams only two goals behind. However, a fine individual goal 15 minutes from the end restored the visitors’ three goal cushion.

The home side staged a storming finish, aided by Volunteers’ inability to defend corners from which two almost identical goals, headers from Chris Dunne and Conroy, set up a grandstand finish.

With the hail lashing down on an already heavy pitch, the keeper saved well from Alex O’Keefe and tipped over Paul Glew’s curling shot bound for the top corner but Eade completed his hat-trick from close in to level the scores. O’Keefe, whose introduction in the second half gave the Rams’ attack much-needed impetus, appeared to be scythed down in the area but, to the surprise of many, the referee deemed it to be a dive.

The other game in the section, between Stainland United and Sowerby Bridge Reserves also ended with honours even.

Richard Pearson bagged a hat-trick for Bridge but Paul Friend scored twice and Andrew Lumb was also on target for Stainland, who were drawing their third game in a row.

Bridge, who had left winger James Bugler in fine form, led 3-1 with 10 minutes to go but Stainland hit back for a deserved point.

Spring Hall Celtic’s home game against Calder ‘76 Reserves was the only surviving contest in Division Two and the home side boosted their title chance with a 3-1 success.

Terriq Pervez’s 21st league goal of the season plus others for Ahsan Farooq and Sameer Ahmed gave Celtic victory over their mid-table opponents.

Salem Reserves were left kicking themselves after letting a two goal lead slip and then missing a late penalty in a 2-2 draw against West Central in Division Three.

As Salem’s home pitch was unplayable, the match was moved to another pitch on Savile Park.

Half an hour of torrential rain and hail turned the pitch into a mudbath but both teams were keen to play and referee Dave Wright gave the go ahead.

The teams served up an entertaining match but Salem adapted to the conditions better with a blood and guts all-action performance, whilst West’s short-passing game broke down time and time again.

Steve Hawsworth in the Salem goal was well protected by a back four of Tom Jenkins, Sean Neary, Richard Boyle and skipper Rob Worthington.

As the first half went on Salem’s midfield of Joe Duffy, Dan Manley and wide men Dan Waddington and Josh Skinner started to get on top.

Strikers Martin Jenkins and Dave Holcroft gave West’s back line but despite all this good work, Salem they couldn’t find a breakthrough and the first half was goalless.

Salem stole possession straight from restart and home man of the match Dan Manley put through Josh Skinner, who just beat visiting keeper Habib Ahmed to the ball and slid in to score.

Chances were a premium so when Dave Holcroft turned two men inside out and smashed home from 10 yards with a right foot screamer after 70 minutes it looked like the points were Salem’s.

However, West End scored twice in three minutes through Usman Ali and Abdul Hassan.

Salem recovered their composure and finished the game stronger. Rob Worthington could have won it for them from the penalty spot but he slipped and sent the ball high and wide.

The game was played in an excellent spirit and was well refereed by Wright.

Shelf FC were 4-1 home winners over St Columbas to maintain their pursuit of inactive leaders Brighouse Sports.

Steve Dunwell’s two goals - his first of the season - plus others from Gary Boldy and Dan Phipps did the trick for the second-placed team.