Can Utd rise to challenge?

Steve Butterworth will be hoping for a quieter afternoon than the last time Midgley played Shelf. He had to pick the ball out of his net six times but Midgley still won!

Steve Butterworth will be hoping for a quieter afternoon than the last time Midgley played Shelf. He had to pick the ball out of his net six times but Midgley still won!

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Midgley United’s first team will bid to follow the lead of their seconds and book a cup final appearance on Saturday.

The Haslem Sheppard Halifax AFL leaders take on fellow Premier side Shelf United in the last four of the Skircoat Green Physiotherapy Challenge Cup at Ryburn United’s ground (1.45).

Midgley will start favourites, having already beaten Shelf in the league this season, but their hit and miss form in knockout competitions in recent years means they can take nothing for granted.

The club’s second string are already through to their final, against Ryburn United Reserves in the Ziggy’s Metro Cars Invitation Cup.

Midgley have picked up two title trophies in recent years and manager Craig Gee said the side’s cup record was “terrible” in comparison to their league form.

They bowed out of this season’s Halifax FA Saturday Cup to division-lower Mixenden United and Gee believes it is time Midgley put the record straight.

“We have under-achieved in the cups in the last few years. We should be making it through to semi-finals and finals,” he said.

“This is a good opportunity for us but it won’t be easy - Shelf are a decent side.”

Midgley have so far beaten West Central and derby rivals Calder ‘76 in the Challenge Cup and were 7-6 home winners over Shelf in the league on December 6, getting a late winner after throwing away a healthy lead.

Remarkably, Shelf haven’t played since that game while Midgley have only had two further outings, beating Elland and losing to Warley Rangers,

Fitness could be an issue but Gee is confident his men will be as sharp as possible.

Midgley’s top-of-the-table home game against Northowram last Saturday was postponed in mid-morning due to a waterlogged pitch but Midgley’s players trained under the watchful eye of second team boss Nick Farrar on astroturf at Luddenden Dene.

The players were due to stretch their legs again last night and Gee said: “With us training, hopefully it will give us a bit of an edge.”

Central defender Joe Gibson remains on the sidelines, as he awaits a scan on a knee, while Tom Booth hasn’t had enough match practice to be considered for the firsts after ankle surgery. However, Danny Pullen and Andy Wilkinson are both fit again.

Gee will be looking for his defence to plug some of their recent leaks and cope with one particular Shelf danger man.

Gee said: “Billy Grogan caused us problems in the league game and we will need to give him a bit of attention.”