Uncomfortable afternoon for leaders at Shelf

RYBURN United retained their six point lead at the top of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL but were relieved to win 4-3 away to Shelf United.

Both sides had players missing but the mid-table hosts were up for a battle and made the running up the hill at Shelf Park.

Ryburn were grateful to Ash Rayner for some good saves before they took the lead against the run of play, Simon Carter’s long throw being flicked on by Craig Peckover for Martin Powell to finish.

Shelf were playing with freedom and looking dangerous but Ryburn doubled their lead thanks to Christian Silkstone’s 30-yard lob off the underside of the bar, after Rayner’s long clearance.

The hosts got the goal they deserved from a free header early in the second half but Silkstone hit the bar and then put in a cross which led to an own goal.

Shelf pulled it back to 2-3 and although Nathan Hargreaves produced some good work on the right to set up Silkstone for a sweet finish, the home side got a third through an Andrew penalty to keep the visitors on their toes up to the final whistle.

With points in the bag and three of their last four games at home, Ryburn are in a decent position, particularly as their rivals have to play each other.

However, Warley and Elland United both won comfortably while fourth title contenders, Stump Cross, were inactive.

Warley beat bottom club Stainland United 6-1 but it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Stainland, back in action after a suspension for non-payment of fines, were clearly up for the test and captain Chris Green’s thunderous 30-yarder was brilliantly tipped on to the underside of the bar by Steve Rowe in the opening 60 seconds.

That should have served as a warning to Warley but they fell behind when Paul Campbell reacted first after a defensive mix up.

Warley equalised after 20 minutes through the prolific Matty Bodkin, who drove inside and hit a sweet left footed shot in at the near post.

With the momentum now with Warley it was no surprise when they took the lead on the half hour mark, John Burston powerfully heading in Matthew Chapman’s corner.

Chapman’s quality delivery from set pieces was Warley’s most likely source of goals and his cross from the right enabled the unmarked Callum Burrows to volley in acrobatically.

Warley stayed on top after half time and Burston scored his second headed goal from Chapman’s corner. Moments later, Bodkin sliced through the defence for his fifth goal in three games.

Stainland were denied twice by the impressive Rowe before veteran Paul Kendall rolled back the years with a mazy run from the halfway line and chip to complete the scoring in stoppage time.

Elland inflicted a heaviest defeat of the season on relegation-threatened Sowerby United, by 4-0.

Elland made the better start but the hosts slowly got going with Corey Henderson’s darting runs causing problems.

Both sides wasted chances and a goal looked unlikely as the game entered its last third.

However, Elland broke the deadlock when Carlton Balmer drilled in a low corner to the near post and Mark Kelsey tucked the ball away.

This lifted Elland with Jordan Burnham and Richard Thornley bossing midfield.

Sowerby lost Henderson and Nathan Howard to injuries before Elland doubled their lead through a Mark Kelsey strike.

Sowerby pushed men forward but a swift break resulted in a handball and Vaughan Boon converted the penalty.

The same player raced away unchallenged in the dying seconds to hammer home the fourth.

Greetland, among the title contenders until recently, crashed 4-1 at home to a Calder ‘76 side who are moving towards safety.

With Remi Allen delayed, Warren Clayton started up front and finish ed off a Gavin Fleming cross with a diving header after 15 minutes.

Greetland came back strongly and Mark Hindle shot just over with a good chance.

Clayton combined well on the right with John Moynes before feeding Ricky Topham, who hammered home his first goal.

Minutes later Moynes intercepted a Greetland throw and slid the ball to Topham, who smashed it home.

Calder’s Martin Higginbottom made a good save before Clayton forced a poor clearance from the ‘keeper which went straight to Topham, who curled in a fine shot.

Greetland dominated possession for the final minutes and Carl Ainley scored a consolation goal.