Top-flight strugglers show fighting spirit

Northowram's Chris Conroy (left) and Elland's Mark Kelsey were among the goals
Northowram's Chris Conroy (left) and Elland's Mark Kelsey were among the goals

It was bottoms up in the Premier Division of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL on Saturday with all the struggling sides picking up points.

Elland United took pride of place with a 3-1 home win over title-chasing Stump Cross while Copley United registered only a third league win of the campaign with a 5-3 home success over Hebden Royd Red Star.

Bottom side Sowerby Bridge picked up an unexpected eighth point of the season in a 3-3 home draw with second-placed Ryburn United while the team just above Bridge, Holmfield, shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Sowerby United.

Mark Kelsey scored twice and Dean Lawrence got the other as 2011-12 champions Elland, now playing at Stainland Rec, repeated their earlier win over Stump.

The visitors, who had won their previous seven league games, had only a Ben Hiley goal to show for their efforts.

Hebden Royd boss Dave Whitehouse felt his side didn’t have the rub of the green against Copley on Savile Park.

“We conceded three of the flukiest own goals you’ll ever see,” said Whitehouse, who saw James Rawlinson head into his own net, Lee Thomas’s looping back pass bounce over his own ‘keeper and a cross go in off the back of Joe Western’s head.

Red Star also lost Danny Lumb after half an hour to a knock on the head which required hospital treatment and Copley scored their first two goals shortly afterwards and never looked back.

Lewis Cockroft scored twice for Star but Copley had the points sewn up by the time Joe Januszczyk got their third.

Sowerby Bridge boss Mick Ellis put his side’s unexpected point down to attitude.

“We fought for everything whereas Ryburn thought they just had to turn up to win,” said Ellis.

Ryburn settled first and took the lead through Reece Uttley’s great strike from the edge of the box on 10 minutes.

The rest of the half belonged to Bridge and they got a deserved equaliser five minutes before the break when Lee Wood was sent through and he chipped ‘keeper Ash Rayner, who was caught in no man’s land.

Bridge kept up the good work with Adam Barlow, James Sweeney and Chris Doyle to the fore and on 55 minutes, after good work from Martin Bates, Wood just beat Rayner to the ball and stroked it into an empty net.

Ryburn rang the changes and levelled with a close-range header from Christian Silkstone.

When the striker made it 16 goals for the season it seemed Bridge were in for a torrid last 25 minutes.

However, Silkstone missed several more chances with ‘keeper Danny Jennings making some fine saves. Defender Chris Punda twice hit his own woodwork and centre back Matty Seekings helped the home side stay in the hunt.

Bridge started to get hold of the game again and with seconds remaining Barlow beat Oliver Brierley to the ball and sent Dean Fulton through to smash the ball past Rayner.

Holmfield picked up a point in their relegation fight in a 1-1 draw away to Sowerby United.

In a goalless, scrappy first half the only effort of note came from Sowerby’s Joe Swallow, his free kick clipping the bar.

Sowerby picked up their game and chances went begging before Holmfield took the lead against the run of play.

A stinging drive from Danny Kirman was magnificently saved by Paul Barker but Jamie Keegan followed up to force the ball home.

Sowerby player manager Garry Boyd was driving his men on. A Swallow effort hit a post and a George Turner header was scrambled off the line but Boyd reacted quickest to drive in a loose ball.

The Ryburn and Stump Cross results were good news for Midgley United, who beat fourth-placed Greetland for the second time in five weeks to go seven points clear

Midgley were 4-1 home winners, pulling clear in the second half when they played some good football against the wind.

Greetland looked well-organised but fell behind to a penalty for handball after 20 minutes, Andrew Butterworth scoring.

Midgley had the upper hand but were unable to extend their advantage until Jamie Coward’s curling shot made it 2-0 after 55 minutes.

Two goals in five minutes from George Bamford made the points safe, Scott McHale’s hard work up front for Greetland being rewarded with his side’s late consolation.

Northowram stay 15 points clear at the top of Division One after avenging their only league defeat of the season - by 5-4 at Denholme on the opening night - in emphatic fashion.

The Rams turned a 3-1 interval advantage, gained playing up the slope at Northowram Rec, into a 7-1 thrashing of their visitors from Foster Park.

Alex O’Keefe, whose direct running caused Denholme problems throughout the opening 45 minutes, volleyed narrowly wide after 15 minutes and he was instrumental in winning the penalty a minute later which James Waggett slammed home.

The visitors drew level 10 minutes later when good approach play and a lay-off from Neil Roberts teed up Danny Moralee for a firm side-foot finish into the top corner.

Matthew Rushworth put a free header over the top for Rams and Roberts put a flying header inches wide and a shot against the woodwork,the ball running along the goal line with James Bunn well beaten.

Moralee also went close as play ebbed and flowed but goals in the last nine minutes of the half from Chris Conroy and Mark Eade, who cashed in on great work from O’Keefe, gave the Rams a telling interval lead.

The Rams started the second-half in storming style. A Denholme defender’s attempted hooked clearance hit a post and Jamie Walsh made two fine saves.

However, a delightfully disguised pass from Conroy played in Eade for a pinpoint left foot finish. A deft touch from Danny King played in Eade for his hat-trick goal and Conroy made it 6-1 after good work from Olly Spencer.

Conroy’s 33rd goal of the season in all competitions rounded off a superb all-round team performance.

Shelf United look set to fill the other promotion spot after winning 2-1 away to Salem in the battle between the second and third-placed sides.

Salem took the lead in a very scrappy encounter when Lee Worrall ran on to a ball over the top and squared for Stephen Croft to tap home.

Worrall missed a decent chance but was injured after the break and Shelf got on terms when a Luke Holmes cross from the right was put into his own net by Paul Manning.

That deflated Salem and Shelf got on top and grabbed a winner 15 minutes from time through Danny Thornton’s fine back post header from another Holmes cross.

Lowly pair Greetland Reserves and Halifax Irish Centre fought out a goalless draw while a single goal was enough to give fourth-placed Elland Allstars victory away to Wadsworth.

Spring Hall Celtic and Mixenden United had wins in their pursuit of inactive Division Two leaders AFC Crossleys.

Terriq Pervez scored twice in Celtic’s 4-2 success away to Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves.

Mixenden also took on Calder Valley opposition, hosting Midgley United Reserves, and they emerged 3-2 victors.

After a even opening, Martin Woodhouse drew first blood for Mixi. Midgley drew level but Danny Johnson’s superb free-kick nudged the hosts ahead before half time.

Woodhouse put more daylight between the teams, cutting in from the left and seeing his shot squirm under the ‘keeper, but Midgley scored a second to set up a tense finish.

Ross Broadley and an own goal made the difference as Shelf Reserves won 2-0 at home to their Sowerby counterparts.

West Central moved up to second place in Division Three with a comfortable 5-3 away to St Columbas.

Both teams started brightly, but West Central drew first blood when Lamin Janneh Jnr beat his marker to the ball and beat gthe ‘keeper with a low, hard strike from outside the box.

Saints hit back almost immediately, prodding home an equaliser, but the influential Bilal Shiraz unlocked the home defence with a sublime diagonal pass and Awais Haroon made no mistake.

Saints made it 2-2 when visiting man of the match Adil Mahmood had the ball was stolen from him.

Midfielder Saad Hussain’s fine half-volley into the top right hand corner made it 3-2 at half time and Omar Dar and Shiraz set up Lamin Jnr to curl the ball beyond the keeper for the next goal.

When RB Zameer Asif’s wonderful long ball was flicked on by Shiraz for Hassan Ahmed to run through and chip the ‘keeper, Central had the points in the bag.

However, Saints kept going and were rewarded with a third goal in a game well refereed by Mohammed Taj.

Leaders Brighouse Sports were 3-0 home winners over Savile Arms in the section’s other game.