Ryburn United’s hopes of silverware this season remain alive after they beat champions Illingworth St Mary’s 2-1 in Saturday’s Jack Haymer Challenge Cup semi-final at Natty Lane.
Craig Walker’s side showed their mettle after the disappointment of losing 2-0 in the county cup semi-final to Carlton Athletic in midweek.
Goals from Brad Waddington and Owen Wilkinson earned them a Shay date with Shelf FC on May 16 but ‘keeper Ash Rayner also played a key part with some fine saves.
All the goals came in the first half. A long throw from Ashton Richardson was allowed to bounce in the area and Waddington opened the scoring.
Gareth Gaukroger equalised from the penalty spot after Carl Maguire had fouled Phil Livesey but a superb free-kick from Wilkinson into the top corner, which gave Warren Gray no chance, quickly restored Ryburn’s lead.
Both sides were lacking their leading scorers, Christian Silkstone (Ryburn) and John Booth, and there was no addition to the score line.
Ryburn sat back in the second half and were grateful to Rayner. He denied Gaukroger and Joe Griffin, having saved Mike Gregory’s header from point-blank range in the opening 45 minutes.
Northowram boosted their hopes of a top four finish with a 1-0 home win over Hebden Royd Red Star in the only Premier Division game.
In a largely forgettable 90 minutes, an individual goal from Lewis Oldridge clinched the points for Northowram against a Star side with just one win in their last 11 games.
The first half was an untidy, goalless affair full of frantic football. The stand-out moment was a wonderful save from Rams’ James Bunn, who had to change direction at the last second following a deflection.
On 65 minutes Matt Calland’s flicked header reached Oldridge and he raced forward, turned inside his man and fired over the keeper.
He might have added a second while Red Star missed a glorious opportunity following a throw-in and had a couple of half chances as they pressed down the slope for the equaliser.
There were four games in Division One and title favourites Shelf FC won the most significant of them.
They beat fading Brighouse Sports 5-1 with a couple of goals from Josh Hans as they steadied the ship after as first defeat of the season at Denholme a few days earlier.
Denholme’s four-match winning streak was halted by hosts Ryburn United Reserves, who beat them 4-3 at Ripponden Wood.
Kerry Muncaster scored twice for Ryburn, who leapfrogged Denholme into second.
Two goals from star player Simon Reekie helped Calder ‘76 Reserves complete a Division One double over Midgley United.
Calder were 3-1 winners at Luddenden Foot Park on Saturday, a repeat of the score line at Midgley in January, as they bid to finish in the top half of the table.
On a firm, bumpy pitch, Calder took the lead after 15 minutes when James Megason played a one-two with Reekie before shooting into the bottom corner of the net.
Reekie, who was helping to control the play from an advanced position, blasted a chance over and the sides turned round at 1-0.
Two goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half put the game to bed.
Reekie headed home after challenging teenage Midgley keeper Lawrence Clayton, who had made one good first half save, and then added a good finish to make it 3-0.
Experienced John Oakes was solid at the back for Midgley, who were rewarded for their efforts near the end when Ryan Stansfield scored with a good header.
Elland Allstars retained a place in the top half of the table with a 4-2 home win over Salem.
Junction dropped two precious points in their Division Two promotion quest when held 2-2 by hosts Sowerby United Reserves.
Sowerby Bridge Reserves climbed out of the bottom two with their third win of the season, by 4-1 away to Shelf United Reserves. Neil Davies hit the target twice.
Monday - Division One: Shelf FC v Ryburn United Res (referee A.Gee).
Wednesday - Premier Division: Midgley United v Ryburn United (D.Gilfillan). Division One: Shelf FC v Elland Allstars (S.Adams). Division Two: Northowram Res v Junction Inn (N.Coupe), Shelf United Res v Hebden Royd Red Star Res (R.Stock).