Illingworth St Mary’s made it two titles in two seasons in the Halifax AFL with victory in Saturday’s top of the table match away to Brighouse Sports.
Saints made it 42 wins in 43 games in their brief league history but were pushed all the way by Sports before winning 4-3 at Lane Head.
They have an unassailable 18 point lead in Division One with three games left and can now fully focus on Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Ryburn at Luddenden Foot.
Managers Pete Southwell and Mick Rhodes had to change their plans when Luke Prosser was injured in the warm up.
After a high-tempo, even first 20 minutes, Borhan Doski pounced on a half chance to give Brighouse the lead.
Goal machine John Booth headed an equaliser after Warren Gray’s long throw had been flicked on by Callum Cook.
Saints took the lead with a typical Phil Livsey 25 yarder into the bottom corner and Booth went through one on one with the ‘keeper and scored.
However, Chris Allen fired past Rab Langley from a tight angle to make it 3-2 at the break.
Play continued to be quite even but Brighouse pounced on a defensive mix up between keeper Langley and Andy Gregory to make it 3-3.
Straight from restart some great work from Livsey and Cook created a chance for Gareth Gaukroger, who scored with a first time effort. Illingworth held out for the remaining 20 minutes to clinch the silverware.
There was some good news for Brighouse when promotion rivals Sowerby United suffered a shock 2-0 defeat away to next-to-bottom Calder ‘76 Reserves.
Sowerby never got their game going while Calder were determined but created little in a game dominated by defences.
The longer the game went on, the more Sowerby pushed men forward but were caught out in the last five minutes by Yasim Salih and Nathan Dempsey.
Denholme United are coming with a wet sail after a big backlog of fixtures.
They boosted their hopes of second place with an 8-1 win at AFC Crossleys with doubles from Ross Carnall, Michael Midgley and Luke Dickenson.
A Mark Kelsey hat-trick helped Elland United to a 4-4 draw away to Sowerby Bridge and Connor Bell also bagged three goals as Elland Allstars beat visitors Halifax Irish Centre 8-2.
Mixenden United breathed life back into the Premier Division title race with a 2-1 home win over runaway leaders Calder ‘76.
That will have given new hope to Ryburn United, who had lost by the same score to Mixenden in midweek and got back to winning ways thanks to Christian Silkstone’s five goals in the 6-1 win at bottom side Holmfield.
Calder paid for a poor first half at Natty Lane as they suffered only a second league defeat of the season.
Mixenden deservedly went 2-0 up with very similar goals after 15 and 35 minutes.
Balls from the back were flicked on by Chris Woodhouse. Damien Randall lobbed the ‘keeper and then Woodhouse’s brother Martin repeated the feat.
Jonny Gibson reduced the deficit five minutes after the break and it was backs to the wall for Mixenden from then.
Bradley Smith headed a couple off the line and Remi Allen missed a couple of chances. Both sides had penalty appeals dismissed but Mixenden defended resolutely with ‘keeper Anthony Fenwick’s handling secure.
Mixenden are third and Warley Rangers fourth after a 3-1 home win over Northowram at Shroggs Park.
Warley went ahead after three minutes when a free kick bounced through a crowd of Rams players, leaving a surprised Reece Brady to bundle the ball home,
Warley were the better side, quicker to the ball and more effective in midfield.
The Rams still conjured up a quality equaliser after 23 minutes. Ash Ackroyd chased a seemingly lost cause close to the corner flag, won possession and produced an angled finish over the keeper.
Play was even up the break but the hosts then got on top. Tom Hiley took advantage of a mistake by James Fearnley to put the home side in front and Ed Brigg made it 3-1 from close range eight minutes from time,
Lee Worrall scored both goals as Copley United won 2-1 at Greetland to leave Holmfield seven points adrift at the bottom.
Two goals in five minutes helped Shelf United win 5-3 away to Midgley United after the pair had been locked together at 3-3.
Andy Butterworth’s close-range effort gave Midgley the lead but Harry Talbot’s good finish made it 1-1.
Billy Grogan and Talbot took Shelf into a 3-1 lead, as Midgley made errors at the back, but Toby Standring, a dangerous raider down Midgley’s right, made it 3-3 approaching the final quarter.
However, Will Parkin gave Shelf the lead with a good strike and Oliver Coates’s 18-yarder settled matters.
Greetland Reserves need two wins from their last three games to be Division Two champions after coming from behind to win a 6-4 thriller against Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves.
Illingworth took the lead after an error from Greetland goalkeeper Danny Hoyle, who misjudged a bounce in the area, and soon extended their lead through Robbie Sinclair’s back post header.
Greetland pulled one back after a clever free kick by Chris Green put Karl Jowett through to score the first of his four goals.
Tom Kershaw restored the home side’s two goal advantage with a low shot from just outside the area.
After the break Greetland improved significantly, especially in attack, as Jowett rounded the keeper for his second.
Illingworth restored their two goal lead when Jack Pullan pounced on a defensive mix up.
Tony Clarke saved a Andy Hurcombe penalty but from the resulting corner Jowett completed his hat trick with a well taken header.
Hurcombe made it 4-4 before Jowett scored the goal of the game off the underside of the bar. Hurcombe then scored his 31st of the season to secure the points.
Ben Ireland scored a hat-trick as Shelf FC boosted their promotion bid with a 5-2 win away to Northowram Reserves.
Tonight - Division One: Ryburn United Res v Elland United.
Division Two: AFC Crossleys Res v Shelf United Res, Shelf FC v Denholme United Res, Sowerby Bridge Res v Northowram Res at Northowram.
Wednesday - Premier Division: Greetland v Northowram, Mixenden United v Hebden Royd Red Star, Ryburn United v Holmfield, Warley Rangers Halifax v Shelf United.
Division One: AFC Crossleys v Salem, Calder 76 Res v Elland Allstars, Denholme United v Brighouse Sports, Sowerby Bridge v Midgley United Res (at Midgley), Sowerby United v Elland United.