Comfortable wins for leading trio

Actions from Stump Cross v Calder 76, at Shroggs Park. Pictured is
Actions from Stump Cross v Calder 76, at Shroggs Park. Pictured is

Contenders Midgley United, Stump Cross and Ryburn United are not giving an inch in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL title race.

All three won again on Saturday and they have pulled five points clear of Northowram, who were on cup duty.

Leaders Midgley were 4-0 winners away to Sowerby United, who remain in deep trouble.

Sowerby showed a lot of spirit but fell behind when ‘keeper Matt Bridges got the faintest of touches to Greg Spink’s long throw before the ball found the net.

Ten minutes before the break George Bamford took advantage of a mix up in the home defence to double Midgley’s lead.

Sowerby battled hard after the break and went close on a couple of occasions, keepers James Brookes and man of the match Bridges pulling off some fine saves.

Jordan Dean extended the lead with a low drive from the left and Midgley missed chances before substitutes Andrew Smith knocked home a loose ball in the box with 10 minutes left.

Sowerby had a late penalty saved by Brookes to make it three consecutive games without a goal.

Two goals apiece from Damian Watkins and Tom Robinson helped title favourites Stump get the better of Calder ‘76 by 4-2 at Shroggs Park.

Jonny Gibson and Remi Allen replied for Calder.

Ryburn have added 12 points to their tally since February 7, three of them coming in the committee room after Calder beat them but fielded a player who should have been suspended.

Their latest success on the pitch came by 3-1 at home to Copley United with Simon Carter, Joe Swallow and an own goal account for their tally. Michael Priestley got Copley’s goal.

Warley Rangers returned to winning ways at home to Greetland but they had to do it the hard way, fighting back from a 3-1 half time deficit to snatch a 4-3 win.

Shorn of several key players including top scorer Carlton Balmer, Warley looked every bit a patched up side as they fell two goals behind in the opening ten minutes to strikes from Johnny Crowther and Adam Oldroyd.

It could have been worse five minutes later when James Kaye up-ended Niall Carrington in the area but Michael Hick easily saved Danny Dorward’s weak penalty.

Warley grabbed a lifeline in their only attack of note in the first half. Captain Chris Hall powered a header from a Tom Hiley corner onto the bar and Joe McGinley reacted quickest to volley home the rebound.

However, Greetland soon re-established their two goal advantage as Dorward was allowed to run 40 yards unopposed before lashing in a fine effort from 20 yards.

Rangers were grateful to get to the interval only 3-1 behind as they were second best in every department to a lively Greetland side, with only good goalkeeping and wayward finishing preventing it being a rout.

Some stern words and changes at the break started to pay dividends and Warley pulled a goal back on the hour in fortuitous circumstances as another Hiley corner was fumbled into the net by the unfortunate Greetland custodian.

That spurred Warley and man of the match Matt Bodkin, a constant menace, saw his goalbound effort strike a defender’s hand. The referee pointed to the spot and Hiley confidently scored his 21st goal of the season.

The tide had well and truly turned and it was all Warley now.

The winner came via the most unlikely of sources, player manager Matthew Chapman climbing off the bench due to injuries and latching onto Brandon Gilling’s through ball. With the keeper in no man’s land he executed a perfect lob from 35 yards.

Shelf made it three league wins on consecutive Saturdays since their return from a long break but made hard work of beating bottom side Elland United 2-1.

In a scrappy contest, the young visiting side took the lead after 265 minutes, playing up the slope, when a cross to the back post was followed by a scramble and Sam Halstead scored.

Shelf made changes, pushing James Waggott forward into midfield, and he put the ball across for Oliver Coates to head home for 1-1.

The winner came 10 minutes later and was another header from a cross, this time Billy Grogan capitalising on good build-up play.

Shelf had a couple of chances to kill off the game and were relieved to see one late Elland chance clear the bar.

Mixenden were left to rue the loss of two points in a 2-2 home draw against Calder ‘76 Reserves in Division One.

It meant they have now dropped the same number of points - six - as their title rivals and leaders Holmfield, who won 6-4 away to Greetland Reserves.

Mixenden had drawn 3-3 in the away fixture early in the season and Calder again showed their mettle in an excellent contest.

Adam Gaze scored the only goal of the first half for Mixenden but Irfan Afzal equalised.

The Calder ‘keeper made a couple of fine saves and then denied Damian Randall and Gaze in quick succession with seven minutes left, only for Gaze to mop up the rebound.

However, Calder were not to be denied and got their second with two minutes left. The ball was sent into the box from a free kick on the right and James Jackson struck from close range.

Chris Woodhouse scored twice and eight other players got on the scoresheet as Holmfield came out on top against Greetland, who are fighting hard but are up against it in their bid to beat the drop.

Greetland slipped to the bottom when goals from Niall Cuttle and Josh Ambler gave Halifax Irish Centre only a second win of the season, by 2-1 away to fellow strugglers Stainland United.

A hat-trick from former Elland striker Mark Kelsey helped Volunteer Arms to end Sowerby Bridge’s winning run, Dayle and Luke Maguire scoring for the Walton Street side.

Salem boosted their hopes of a third-place finish with a 3-1 win away to Elland Allstars while Ryburn United Reserves won 2-1 away to an under-strength Midgley United Reserves side in a warm-up for the Invitation Cup final.

With Denholme’s Foster Park unfit and West Central still suspended, only four games went ahead in Division Two.

Brighouse Sports took another step towards promotion - and probably the runners-up spot behind Illingworth SM - with a 7-0 home win over Shelf United Reserves.

Northowram Reserves were also wide-margin winners, by 6-1 away to Sowerby Bridge Reserves, with the help of a brace from Tom Abson.

Shelf FC moved into third with a 2-1 win away to AFC Crossleys Reserves.

Salem Reserves moved above their Sowerby United counterparts with a 4-2 home success aided by Scott Fieldhouse’s two goals.