Stump Cross’s bid to win the Halifax AFL’s Challenge Cup for a third successive season was derailed in unexpected fashion at Denholme United on Saturday.
The holders crashed out 2-1 to their division-lower hosts while last year’s beaten finalists Sowerby United were also upset victims, humbled 5-2 at home by West Central from two divisions lower.
Early-season form suggested a cake-walk for Stump but Foster Park has a reputation for being a difficult place to visit and home boss Mick O’Connor had his best side for the first time this season.
Stump were without ill boss Tony Kniveton but started well enough, only to be rocked back on their heels by a goal from Danny Moralee after 15 minutes.
Michael Midgley headed the ball on and Moralee chested the ball down, turned and smashed the ball into the top corner of the net from 25 yards.
Play swung from end to end for the remainder of the half and young Mickey Ruddock might have doubled the advantage but put the ball wide after going through one-on-one.
Stump pressed in the second half but had a man sent off for dissent and Denholme arguably created the better chances.
It looked all over when Denholme broke the offside trap with three minutes left and Moralee set up Matthew Waring for a tap-in.
However, Stump got one back when teenage ‘keeper Cameron Foster was unable to cling onto the ball from a corner and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
The visitors threw everything at their hosts in the remaining seconds but to no avail.
Sowerby looked on course for victory when Lee Barber rewarded their good early play against West Central with the opening goal
This spurred the visitors into action and Central levelled, only to hand back the lead with an own goal.
Sowerby missed several good chances in the second half and the quick West Central strikers gave them a lesson in finishing.
Mihran Sajjad and teenage midfield ace Awais Ali Khan scored twice each and Lamin Jennah Jnr sealed a notable victory for the visitors.
Calder ‘76 bounced back from a poor display at Greetland to beat Sowerby Bridge 4-0.
Right back Paul Ashman marked his return from a lengthy absence due to a fractured eye socket with the cross from which Jonny Gibson opened the scoring in the first five minutes.
Ben Fairburn scored twice before half time and it could have been worse for the visitors had their ‘keeper not performed heroics.
Calder took off ‘keeper Warren Clayton (groin strain) as a precaution with 15 minutes to go and Mr Adaptable Ricky Topham went in goal but was not unduly tested.
Sub James Megson got the final goal after good work fromk Steve Jones and Gibson.
Premier Division sides Warley Rangers and Ryburn United both won away to Savile Park-based teams from the first division.
Warley beat Salem 3-2 with the help of a Paul Kendall double, and champions Ryburn knocked out Volunteer Arms by 4-2 with the help of a brace from Owen Wilkinson.
Elland Allstars also went into this week’s draw after a 3-1 win over Stainland in an all-Division One tie.
Lee Cartwright bagged four goals as Illingworth St Mary’s put fellow newcomers Northowram Reserves to the sword by 14-0 in the Invitation Cup.
Holders Shelf FC progressed 4-1 at home to Denholme Reserves with the help of a Harry Talbot hat-trick.
Last season’s beaten finalists Ryburn United Reserves took advantage of early injuries to Calder Reserves centre backs Nathan Sim and Matty McCambridge to slam their visitors 7-1.
An excellent first half display paved the way for Midgley Reserves to beat Greetland Reserves 4-1.
Youngsters Henry Butterworth and Sam Tattersall capped fine performances with a goal each and James Balmforth and Simon Kavanagh got the visitors’ other goals.
Red Star Reserves beat their Salem counterparts 6-2 with the help of four goals from Rhys Dean.
Midgley United completed a bad day for Stump Cross by regaining their three point advantage over them at the top of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL with a hard-earned 3-2 home win over Greetland.
Midgley were below their best after a week off and needed goals from Calum Rodgers and Rob Stansfield in the final 20 minutes to give them victory after they had trailed 2-1.
The leaders started strongly, only to fall behind to Greetland’s first effort on goal after 10 minutes when Niall Carrington’s low 18-yarder bobbled past Steve Butterworth in goal.
The visitors had the upper hand for the next 20 minutes with Midgley looking unsettled and anxious so it was a relief to the home camp when Stansfield’s flicked header set up George Bamford, who produced a good first touch and smart finish.
Midgley then looked the better side, without creating too much, but they fell behind again on the hour when Gary Hodgson miscued a clearance, the ball looped up into the air and Carrington was first to react.
Rodgers’ back post header from a set piece made it 2-2 and Stansfield’s shot from the right into the top corner won it for the hosts.
The day’s other Premier Division game, between Copley United and Hebden Royd Red Star, finished 3-3.
Red Star blasted into a 2-0 lead through Lewis Cockroft and player-boss Chris Garbutt but the visitors’ fortunes took a turn for the worse when Dan Lumb blocked an effort on his own goal line with his arm, was dismissed and Copley scored from the spot.
A header over the ‘keeper made it 2-2 in the second half but Cockroft dribbled past three Copley players to pave the way for Patrick Thomas to edge Red Star back in front. However, Copley got their third with 15 minutes left.
There was only one game in the first division but it was a big one, a Damian Randall goal giving Holmfield a 1-0 derby victory away to fellow fast-starters Mixenden United.
Brighouse Sports made it five wins from five outings to blaze the trail in Division Two.
They were made to work for a 3-2 home win over St Columbas, who have also been in good early form.
Sowerby United Reserves gained their first point of the season with a spirited show in a 2-2 draw away to Shelf United Reserves.
Craig Fletcher put the home side ahead but when Gareth Grogan spotted the home keeper off his line his chip from fully 35 yards hit the bar and Aran Howard reacted the quickest to draw Sowerby level.
Fletcher restored Shelf’s advantage before a Callum Huggon strike gained Sowerby a deserved point.