Extra time Shay winner brings Challenge Cup back to Midgley

Midgley after their extra time Challenge Cup victory over Warley Rangers
Midgley after their extra time Challenge Cup victory over Warley Rangers

Midgley United won the Halifax AFL’s main knockout trophy, the Challenge Cup, for the first time in 12 years at the Shay.

They beat Premier Division rivals Warley Rangers 2-1 after extra time but needed a helping hand to beat an inspired Elland goalkeeper Michael Hickinbottom for a second time.

Jason Cartlidge’s fifth-minute glancing header gave Midgley the lead but Tom Hiley’s free-kick towards the end of the first half cancelled that out.

Hickinbottom made four saves any professional goalkeeper would have been proud of to keep his side in the hunt but his own fullback Josh Prestage unwittingly knocked the ball past him near the end of the first period of extra time.

Ian Hudson’s header looked set to drop into the arms of the big Elland custodian until Prestage intervened to dash his side’s hopes.

Midgley were solid and unrelenting and on another night their impressive centre backs Rob Stansfield and Joe Gibson or the non-stop Cartlidge might have done enough to be man of the match.

However, that accolade went to Hickinbottom, who kept out Toby Standring’s snapshot in the early stages before producing further acrobatics to deny athletic frontrunner George Bamford twice and Gibson’s back header.

Warley had won both Premier Division games between the sides but it was only in the second quarter that they threatened to get the upper hand.

With Damon Nicholls knocking dangerous balls into the penalty area and Reece Brady, Brandon Gilling and Edward Brigg combining well in midfield, Matthew Chapman’s side looked capable of winning.

They got on terms after 37 minutes when Midgley ‘keeper Steve Butterworth gave Hiley plenty of the goal to aim at with his 30 yard free-kick. The centre forward needed no second invitation.

Midgley took control in the early stages of the second half and Warley never really got going again with Hickinbottom the busier ‘keeper.

Bamford, who had lost half-fit strike partner Tom Booth after 35 minutes, worked tirelessly and Cartlidge played a key role in breaking up Warley attacks in front of his defence.

Butterworth made one excellent reaction save to keep out substitute Joe McGinley’s header and there was one final scare for Midgley when Nicholls headed wide in the final seconds of extra time.

Midgley: S Butterworth, C Hodgson, A Wilkinson, I Hudson, R Stansfield, J Gibson, R Jeffries, J Cartlidge, G Bamford, T Booth, T Standring. Subs: G Spink, T Rawnsley, J Shaw, J Brook.

Warley Rangers: M Hickinbottom, J Prestage, P Kendall, C Hall, C Smith, R Brady, B Gilling, E Brigg, T Hiley, C Balmer, D Nicholls. Subs: M Bodkin, J Trowell, J McGinley, J Kaye.

Referee: C Salmons.