Stump Cross’s Premier Division title hopes in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL have been revived in spectacular fashion in the last week.
Midgley United looked almost home and dry seven days ago but since then they have lost 1-0 away to bottom club Calder ‘76 and second-placed Stump have slashed the gap between the sides to four points with a game in hand.
Stump beat Calder 2-0 at Shroggs Park on Wednesday and have also collected three points in the committee room. They have been awarded a game against Elland United which was postponed while Elland United were under a West Riding County FA suspension.
On top of that, Tony Kniveton’s side have also won through to the Skircoat Green Physiotherapy Challenge Cup final, thumping division-lower Halifax Irish Centre 8-1 at West Vale last Saturday.
Kniveton said: “It is still in Midgley’s hands but we are going well. We’ve five league matches left and we’ve got to concentrate on winning them all.”
There was a strong Midgley contingent on the touchline on Wednesday but their neighbours Calder were unable to help them out.
Two goals in five minutes in the run up to half time settled matters.
Lady Luck shined on Stump for the first. Ben Hiley went through and Warren Clayton saved but the ball hit a defender and went in.
Calder appealed in vain for hand ball against Hiley and they fell further behind when Ash Ackroyd cashed in on good work from Damian Watkins.
Si Witton defended well for Calder but the visitors didn’t provide too many anxious moments in the second half for Stump, who were best served by captain Lee Marsh.
Stump missed a stack of chances in the first half against Irish and turned round only 2-1 up, Craig Eastwood replying after Tom Robinson and Dan Crosland had struck.
Goals from Ben Hiley, Liam Brompton, Crosland, Robinson, Damian Watkins and Matty Hoyle took Stump clear. A good shot from Robinson and a fine back post header from Watkins, after good work from Hoyle, were the pick of them.
Calder’s Saturday win, courtesy of Ricky Topham’s penalty with 15 minutes left, had ended Midgley’s 39-game unbeaten league run, spanning almost two years.It lifted enigmatic Calder off the bottom.
Midgley boss Craig Gee said Calder had “totally deserved” their derby victory, even though his side had started the better and Tom Booth had missed a couple of opportunities.
Topham and Remi Allen started to cause the visitors problems and Simon Stansfield and Irfan Afzal gained the upper hand in midfield after the break.
Calder had a couple of efforts blocked on the line and forced Steve Butterworth into some good saves before the spot kick for handball finally settled it.
In the relegation battle, Copley United are looking increasingly in danger of being the one club to go down after losing 1-0 at Holmfield on Wednesday.
Mick Palethorpe got the all-important goal for Holmfield, who are nine points clear of Copley after also picking up a point in a 2-2 draw at home to Sowerby United last Saturday.
Sowerby, also needing the points, started brightly and it was no surprise when the impressive Corey Henderson weaved past several challengers before slotting the ball into the corner of the net.
Minutes later it was 2-0, Joe Swallow beating his marker before picking out Lee Barber, who cleverly flicked the ball home.
It was all Sowerby but they were pegged back when Holmfield were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Palethorpe stroked the ball round the wall.
Sowerby were awarded a penalty when Henderson was brought down but Lee Barber’s weak effort was saved by Craig Lobley.
Paddy Fitzgibbon pulled Holmfield level and Danny Kirman started to dictate in midfield. However, a Sowerby side well led by Ryan Brook regrouped and pressed hard again with Henderson going close and a late penalty shout turned down.
Mark Kelsey scored twice as Elland United won 4-2 away to Warley Rangers on Saturday. That took them level on points with third-placed Ryburn United, who had drawn1-1 with Warley on Friday. However, Ryburn pulled clear again with Wednesday’s 4-3 home win over Shelf.