Copley stay safe with notable win

Ryburn United v Midgley United. Owen Wilkinson for Ryburn and Ian Hudson for Midgley.
Ryburn United v Midgley United. Owen Wilkinson for Ryburn and Ian Hudson for Midgley.

Copley United clinched Premier Division safety and dealt Stump Cross’s Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL title hopes another body-blow on Saturday.

Copley beat the faltering long-time championship favourites 3-2 at Shroggs Park.

Almost inevitably it was their 27-goal leading scorer Gary Ash who did the damage with a hat-trick, Damian Watkins getting both goals for the home side.

News of Stump’s third successive defeat must have been music to the ears of Ryburn United’s players after they were held 1-1 at home by Midgley United in the battle of the top two.

Midgley now look out of it in the race for honours and Ryburn and Stump have now dropped the same number of points. However, Ryburn have 12 extra points in the bag.

Midgley were boosted by an early goal in front of a decent crowd at Ripponden Wood, George Bamford scoring from close range following Jason Cartlidge’s good pass.

Ryburn then had the upper hand and although James Brook made some good saves the hosts drew level after half an hour through Christian Silkstone’s good finish after going through one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

Midgley stepped up their game after the break. Bamford went close, Callum Rodgers hit a post and home player-boss Craig Walker made some good saves.

Ryburn might have snatched it with an effort against the bar from close range late on but a draw was probably a fair result.

Sowerby United and Elland United are the two teams going down. There fates were sealed on Saturday when Copley won and Sowerby lost 5-0 away to Shelf United. Elland were without a game.

Mark Hindle struck four times in the second half for Shelf but the pick of the home goals was a stunning strike from full back Jamie Moorhouse.

Whilst the full back struggled to contain Sowerby’s live wire Corey Henderson for much of the first half, he found the net from fully 35 yards with a first-time effort after a Shelf corner had been cleared.

Sowerby had the better of the first half but Hindle’s first goal three minutes after the interval landed them in trouble and the ex-Greetland player stole the show from then on.

A highlight for Sowerby was a very impressive performance from 17 year old Tom Fryer.

Greetland got back to winning ways with a 5-3 home success over a disappointing Northowram side.

They took advantage of some abject defending to surge into a 4-1 lead after little more than half an hour.

Ellis Dixon forced the ball home at the far post following a corner on 10 minutes and Johnny Crowther’s glancing header doubled the advantage.

Northowram’s Paul Glew, who had hit the post with a long range curling shot, teed up Karl Amos for an emphatic finish for 2-1.

However, Carl Ainley’s innocuous-looking low free kick bounced almost apologetically into the bottom corner and a well-taken goal from the same player left Greetland sitting pretty.

Alex O’Keefe made it 4-2 early in the second half and Chris Conroy’s shot, which was going wide, was deflected into his own net by Dave Walker after 55 minutes.

However, after scares at both ends, Walker headed the clincher for Greetland with two minutes left.

Northowram’s Challenge Cup semi-final opponents Warley Rangers were also beaten, by 2-0 away to Calder ‘76.

Warley were the better side early on but created very little throughout the contest, Warren Clayton making his only save after 20 minutes from Carlton Balmer.

In-form Calder took the lead after 30 minutes when James Redmond back-heeled the ball in the box and Steve Jones shot under the ‘keeper.

The home side added a second five minutes before the break with a stunning long-range strike from teenage fullback Ben Fairburn into the top corner of the net.

Calder boss Rob Kenworthy thought his side had been unconvincing in the first half but his men controlled play in the second and Jonny Gibson, Redmond and Ricky Topham might have added to the tally.

Halifax Irish Centre boosted their hopes of finishing out of Division One’s bottom two with a 3-2 win away to Salem.

They are now only one point behind Stainland, having played five games fewer, with Greetland Reserves booked for bottom spot.

Niall Cuttle, Jonathan Caufield and Wahid Mahmood struck for Irish.

Denholme United were 3-2 home winners against Calder 76 Reserves, who were hit by injuries to ‘keeper Martin Hegginbottom and John Moynes.

United went 2-0 up. Calder skipper Matty McCambridge replied but then had to go in goal and Denholme went 3-1 before Calder got a late second through Nathan Dempsey.

Central midfielder Irfan Afzal was best for the visitors.

Stainland, meanwhile, lost 8-1 to Volunteer Arms, who went third with the help of two goals apiece from Kevin Spalding, Mark Kelsey and Danny Dewick.

Top two Holmfield and Mixenden United both won again so the gap remains at 11 points, although Mixenden have three games in hand.

A Jordan Pettifor double Holmfield win 3-1 away to Midgley United Reserves.

Mixenden notched a more impressive success in what looked a possible banana skin fixture, winning 6-1 at home to AFC Crossleys,

The sending off of the Crossleys ‘keeper early in the second half was pivotal.

In an even first half, Damien Randall gave Mixenden the lead but Andrew Mellard equalised.

After the break Ash Bailey went through on goal and was flattened by the visiting ‘keeper, who was red carded.

Randall fired the penalty over the bar but Mixenden got on top and pulled clear with two more goals from Randall and others from Bailey, Adam Burke and Travis Allinson.

Shelf FC inflicted a first home defeat of the season on St Columba’s, coming out 3-2 winners in a keenly fought Division Two contest on Savile Park.

Neither side had played much in recent weeks and it was Shelf who took the lead after a mix up at the back resulted in Kieron Wright heading past his own ‘keeper.

In-form striker Vinny O’Shea equalised with a hard, low strike into the bottom corner and it remained 1-1 up to half time.

The second half was full of chances with both goals living a charmed life at times.

Shelf regained the lead with a header from a decent cross but Saints rallied and the dangerous Kitubo Touray set up an equaliser from substitute Scott Holmes.

A Shelf defender was dismissed in the final 15 minutes for pulling down Touray as he raced through on goal.

However, the visitors still regained the lead on the break in the last five minutes and were relieved when Saints right back Calvin Marlor’s long range effort was just wide with the last kick of the match.

Two other matches in the section were also decided by the odd goal.

Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves won 3-2 at home to Denholme United Reserve while Alex Haggerty got the only goal of the game as Sowerby United Reserves won away to Sowerby Bridge Reserves.

The other two games produced handsome wins for the title combatants.

Brighouse Sports won 7-1 away to Northowram Reserves with Nathan Shaw and Chris Allan’s two-goal returns matched by the home side’s Kieran Rodger.

Illingworth St Marys crushed Salem Reserves 10-1 with four-goal Lee Cartwright inflicting much of the damage.