Ryburn United showed they are still a force to be reckoned with by shattering Stump Cross’s 100 per cent record in the top section of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL on Saturday.
The reigning champions went into the game having already suffered three defeats but a 4-2 success at Shroggs Park has suddenly given the title race a more open look.
“We’re not out of it yet - we’ll give it everything we’ve got,” said Ryburn boss Craig Walker, who admitted it had been a make or break game for his side.
“Everybody has lost now. We need Stump to slip again but it is all to play for and hopefully we can go on a good run.”
Ryburn have missed last season’s Premier Division leading scorer Christian Silkstone, currently in Australia, but Walker said ex-Sowerby United player George Turner was leading the line well and had worked hard in a 5-4-1 formation against Stump.
The hosts applied plenty of pressure in the opening 15 minutes and Steve Fullard slotted the first goal past Ash Rayner.
Ryburn made it 1-1 through Turner after 25 minutes, following Joe Swallow’s break down the left, and there was no addition to the scoreline before the interval.
Ryburn came out with all guns blazing in the second period with Si Carter to the fore and substitute John Wadsworth tapped home after ‘keeper Craig Taylor had spilled a cross.
Rayner then made a wonder save from Dean Lawrence - a pivotal moment in the game according to Walker - and Ryburn went 3-1 up when Wadsworth latched on to Ashton Richardson’s through ball and fired over Taylor into the roof of the net.
Reece Uttley’s back post volley put more daylight between the teams before Lawrence got Stump’s second with a fine header from a cross.
The Calder ‘76 versus Warley Rangers game was postponed but the other three games in the top section produced another 30 goals.
Thirteen of them came in an astonishing contest at Mytholmroyd, in which leaders Midgley United headed off Shelf United by 7-6.
It looked game over when Midgley opened up a 6-2 lead but Shelf, with Billy Grogan causing plenty of problems, got it back to 6-6 before George Bamford notched a winner for the hosts with 10 minutes left.
Bamford drew first blood after five minutes, following a Toby Standring break down the right. and Andrew Butterworth quickly made it 2-0 from a free kick.
However, Shelf got it back to 2-2 with a brace from young Daniel Marsden.
Midgley wasted no time in regaining the lead through Jason Cartlidge with a good header from an Ian Hudson corner.
A delicate chip from Rob Stansfield was followed by another excellent Midgley goal when a clearance found Hudson 40 yards out and his first time effort sent the ball flying into the top corner.
Bamford, Standring and Stansfield then combined for Bamford to make it 6-2 before a Grogan penalty completed the first half scoring.
Shelf’s second comeback of the game gained momentum when a cross-shot from fullback Craig Fletcher found the net for 6-4.
‘Keeper Steve Butterworth, who might have done better on that occasion, then made some good saves but Shelf were in the ascendancy and roared back with their fifth from a corner. It was scored by Adie Baldwin after Danny Thornton’s header had hit the bar.
Grogan tied it up at 6-6 when he got on the end of a cross at the back post and the visitors looked favourites but Midgley regained their composure and Bamford got the winner from close range.
Hebden Royd Red Star continued their recent good run with a 7-3 win over bottom of the table Sowerby United.
On a very heavy pitch Sowerby were first to score when Dan Boyd finished after good work from Harvey Walsh and Andrew Wadsworth.
The lead lasted only five minutes with goal machine Lewis Cockcroft getting Red Star level.
Red Star then capitalised on some defensive errors, some fine strikes helping them to race into a 5-1 lead with a brace from James Chadwick and two more from Cockcroft.
Sowerby didn’t give up and gave themselves hope when Corey Henderson and James Clegg pulled goals back.
As Sowerby pressed for more they were caught out at the back and goals from Richard Laycock and Tom Garland wrapped up the win for Red Star.
Greetland maintained their much-improved form with a 6-1 thrashing of Copley United on Savile Park to go second.
Their leading scorers Niall Carrington (four) and Jonathan Crowther (two) bagged all the visitors goals between them, taking their league totals to 10 apiece this season.
Almost inevitably the Copley scorer was Gary Ash.
Stainland United maintained their much-improved form with a 5-2 home win against Denholme United in Division One.
They were under the cosh for much of the first half and teenager Jack Harrison beat the offside trap to give the visitors the lead but also missed other similar opportunities.
Karl Jowett, whose pace troubled Denholme, equalised before half time and the hosts gained the upper hand after the break with Chris Green pulling the strings in midfield.
Green and Jowett gave Stainland a 3-1 lead and although Harrison outpaced the home defence to get Denholme’s second, Green and Daniel Hodgson made the points safe for the hosts.
A goal from 16-year-old debutant Jake Shaw was to no avail for Midgley United Reserves, who lost 2-1 away to Ryburn United Reserves.
Gareth Robertshaw and Lewis Brierley were on target for Ryburn.
Top two Holmfield and Mixenden registered contrasting wins to pull clear of inactive Volunteer Arms.
Holmfield were relieved to beat visitors Calder ‘76 Reserves 2-1 with goals from Danny Kirman and Chris Woodhouse, Gav Martin replying.
Mixenden made it 20 goals in two games with an 11-3 mauling of Halifax Irish Centre, whose firsts also conceded 11 to Ovenden WR on the next pitch at Natty Lane.
Mixenden roared into a 6-0 interval lead in a game switched from West Vale to Illingworth.
Home boss Andy Greenwood sent on three substitutes and his side lost their way for a while, Irish scoring three times, including an own goal.
Mixenden then reasserted to run away with the contest. Damian Randall missed a penalty but still scored four, including a stunning 30-yard volley into the top corner from out on the right.
Newcomer Matthew Horsfall came on and scored twice while Travis Allinson also bagged two.
Salem are only one point behind Volunteer after keeping up their good run with a 7-2 success away to Greetland Reserves, the only team in the league yet to collect a point.
Brighouse Sports, Shelf FC and Denholme United Reserves remain level on points at the top of Division Two.
Brighouse made short work of visitors Northowram Reserves, winning 8-0, and Shelf will also be pleased with a clean sheet after a 6-0 eclipse of visitors Crossleys Reserves. Daniel Phipps scored a hat-trick for them.
Lee Kelly’s second hat-trick of the season helped Denholme Reserves beat a young Sowerby Bridge Reserves side 3-2 on a predictably heavy Foster Park pitch.
There was frustration for Illingworth St Mary’s when their game with West Central was called off. Saints have only played six league games - fewer than anyone else in the league.
Josh Skinner’s two goals earned Salem reserves a point in a 2-2 home draw against Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves.
Halifax AFL interest in the West Riding County FA competitions was ended when Northowram, Elland United and Shelf United Reserves made third round exits on Saturday.
Northowram’s West Riding Cup adventure came to an end when they were beaten 4-0 away to West Yorkshire League title contenders Bardsey while fellow Premier side Elland lost 5-4 at home to Howden Clough, who are 12th in Division One of the same league.
Northowram conceded two soft goals in the first eight minutes but then knuckled down and competed well, especially in the second half.
Karl Amos’ needless concession of a penalty in the second minute gave the hosts the perfect start.
Craig Maynard converted and Bardsey doubled their lead six minutes later when slack marking presented Jamie Thompson with a free header.
The Rams worked hard and did not concede too much territory but found it difficult to open up a well-organised defence.
Adam Ryder missed a gilt-edged chance for the hosts but seven minutes before half-time their best player Danny Maw swept past several opponents and produced a neat outside-of-the-foot finish.
The Rams switched to 4-4-2 after the break and were the equal of their opponents in the final 35 minutes but by then they had fallen further behind to Maw’s clinical finish.
Chris Dunne had the visitors’ best chance but placed his close range free header straight into the arms of the keeper.
Shelf United Reserves made an inglorious exit, losing 11-0 at home to Manchester League side Springhead Reserves from Oldham in the West Riding Trophy.