Stump Cross manager Tony Kniveton praised his players after the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL title favourites had thrashed hosts Shelf United 8-1 on Saturday.
Stump had lost their previous two games, by 2-0 to Hebden Royd Red Star in the league and 3-0 to Brighouse Town’s development side in the Halifax FA Cup, and Kniveton was keen for his men to steady the ship.
They certainly did that against a Shelf side which had won its previous four Premier games.
Stump romped 4-0 ahead down the slope at Shelf Park and doubled their lead before gifting their out-of-sorts hosts a late consolation.
Kniveton said: “I’m pleased with such a positive response.
“We had never gone two games without scoring before and Shelf were still in it (the championship race).
“The title is in our hands.”
Josh Hiley bookended the first half scoring, striking from Chris Gent’s corner after five minutes and mopping up a rebound after the home keeper had pushed the ball against a post on 43 minutes.
In between, Steve Fullard and Martin Bates had rewarded Stump’s lively support play.
The visitors struck three times in quick succession just after the hour mark through Martin Bates, Ben Hiley and ex-Ovenden WR striker Fullard to go 7-0 up and Fullard completed his hat-trick with five minutes left.
Mark Hindle took advantage of an error from Stump ‘keeper Craig Taylor, who had been virtually a spectator, with a couple of minutes remaining.
Former leaders Midgley United now look out of contention after a 3-1 defeat at home to derby rivals Hebden Royd Red Star, as do Northowram, who lost 3-2 away to Calder ‘76.
That leaves Ryburn United, the new table toppers after a 4-1 success away to Copley United, looking the only threats to Stump.
Red Star avenged a 4-0 opening-day home defeat by Midgley.
Chad Godfrey gave Star the perfect start with a first time shot into the top corner.
Goal ace George Bamford made it 1-1 midway through a scrappy first half with a firm shot after good work form Tom Rawnsley.
Dan Lumb restored Star’s lead with a nice finish after the ball had dropped to him in the box following a throw in.
Midgley moved an extra man forward but visiting ‘keeper Joe Kidder was largely untroubled and Lewis Cockroft made the game safe from an acute angle approaching the last five minutes.
Calder scored twice in the opening couple of minutes at home to Northowram on the way to making it five wins from their last six games.
An innocuous-looking low cross from Remi Allan was fumbled over the line by visiting keeper James Bunn, who then came off second best when he and James Redmond contested a cross and the ball crept in.
The Rams responded quickly with Danny Rushworth reacting first to Danny King’s inswinging free kick and heading past the ‘keeper rooted to his line.
Shaun Popek blew the best chance of the first half for the visitors while Karl Wooliscroft’s long range volley was narrowly wide for Calder on the stroke of half-time.
Max Crossley shot tamely after being played in by the impressive Allan and the hosts missed a good opportunity after another elementary error from Bunn.
Calder’s third goal after 68 minutes came from some neat one-touch passing from well inside their own half, Allan providing the finish.
Two minutes later substitute Mark Eade scored Rams’ second from Amos’ pass.
Calder had the better of the final 15 minutes for a deserved success.
Sowerby United’s relegation worries deepened with a 5-1 defeat at Warley Rangers.
They took the lead on the 20 minute mark through Matthew Whitworth and Luke Bridge’s crashing drive came back off a post as Sowerby pressed for a second.
However, the visitors were undone by two quick goals just before half time, Tom Hiley scoring after a scramble and Craig Smith drifting in unmarked to head home.
A brace from Reece Brady and one from Jordan Trowell wrapped things up for Warley while Sowerby missed several good chances as they pressed in the second half.
Ryburn rattled up their sixth win quick succession - and third in a row away - with a 4-1 win over Copley United on Savile Park.
Bradley Waddington, Simon Carter, Joe Swallow and Lewis Brierley got their goals while Gary Ash replied.
Bottom club Elland United were beaten again, this time by 5-1 at home to Greetland, for whom leading scorer Niall Carrington bagged two more.
Just when it looked as if Holmfield were shaking off Mixenden United in their Division One title head-to-head, Denholme United threw a spanner in the works.
They notched a 4-3 win away to Holmfield and Mixenden bounced back from a heavy defeat at AFC Crossleys with an 8-1 thrashing of third-placed Salem.
The leading pair have both dropped nine points but Holmfield have nine extra points in the bag.
Denholme used an embarrassing 12-2 defeat in the first meeting - the heaviest defeat boss Mick O’Connor could remember in his 33-year association with the club - as motivation against Holmfield.
They showed their intentions with a Neil Roberts shot which flashed narrowly wide and the speedy Michael Midgley gave them the lead after five minutes.
Denholme dominated the first quarter but Tom Greenwood’s under-hit back pass was seized upon by Martin Woodhouse, who made it 1-1.
The goal lifted Holmfield, who went 2-1 up when the ball hit Richard Wear’s arm and Luke Greenwood scored from the spot.
However, Midgley made it 2-2 before half time and Matty Waring’s bending shot gave Denholme the lead.
Danny Kirman made it 3-3 following a corner but Denholme grabbed a winner with 10 minutes left, the ball hitting Ross Carnell and going into the net after he had challenged the home ‘keeper following a Waring free-kick.
Mixenden were quickly out of the blocks against third-placed Salem on Savile Park and scored two early goals.
Tyson Illingworth replied from the penalty spot but Mixenden powered into a 4-1 interval lead and doubled their tally in the second half.
Damian Randall scored four for Mixenden while Adam Gaze (two) and Matty Horsfall both scored against the club they played for last season. Richard Stock got the visitors’ other goal.
Fourth-placed Ryburn United Reserves maintained their good form with a 4-2 home win over Halifax Irish Centre.
Midgley United Reserves lost 5-1 away to Volunteer Arms and they have slipped to eighth. Their conquerors were helped by two goals from Mark Kelsey.
AFC Crossleys and Sowerby Bridge improved their mid-table status with narrow home wins.
Two goals from Ben Bower helped AFC Crossleys beat visitors Stainland United 3-2 while a Scott Hibbert double gave Bridge a 2-1 success over Calder ‘76 Reserves.
Yet another two-goal man was Elland Allstars’ Connor Bell in a 4-0 win away to bottom side Greetland Reserves.
Brighouse Sports AFC inflicted a first ever league defeat on Illingworth St Mary’s in the battle of the second division’s outstanding two sides.
Sports, who are now 10 points in front of their rivals from four games more, emerged 4-3 victors on the all-weather pitch at Trinity Academy.
The game was played at a fast tempo throughout and Gary West’s visitors led on four occasions, Nathan Shaw’s penalty with five minutes left proving decisive.
Connor Durkin had an early header saved and then a shot cleared off the line before his low cross was slotted home by James Speak to give Brighouse the lead after 20 minutes.
Both teams were having chances and both ‘keepers were in the thick of the action.
Illingworth made it 1-1 after the interval. They won a penalty and although ‘keeper Peter Jennings blocked the effort he was beaten by the rebound.
Borhan Doski restored the visitors’ lead on the hour with an effort over the keeper’s head but Saints were soon on terms again.
Doski got his second from a Durkin cross but Illingworth made it 3-3 with 10 minutes left.
Both teams went for a winner and the game became stretched. Brighouse got it when Chris Allen chased down a through ball, was brought down and Shaw kept his cool from 12 yards.
Lowly Sowerby United Reserves sprung a surprise with a 5-1 home win over fourth-placed St Columbas while AFC Crossleys Reserves also beat higher-placed rivals, winning 3-2 away to Northowram Reserves.