Midgley are below best but still make it four from four

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Midgley United regained their three point advantage over Stump Cross at the top of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL with a hard-earned 3-2 home win over Greetland.

They were below their best after a week off and needed goals from Callum Rodgers and Rob Stansfield in the final 20 minutes to give them victory after they had trailed 2-1.

Midgley were champions two seasons ago and boss Craig Gee said: “We’ve made a good start - four wins out of four - and you can’t ask for any more. Now we have to build on that.”

With Stump on Challenge Cup duty - the holders lost 2-1 at Denholme - Midgley had plenty of incentive to do well.

They started strongly, only to fall behind to Greetland’s first effort on goal after 10 minutes when Niall Carrington’s 18-yarder bobbled past Steve Butterworth in goal.

The visitors had the upper hand for the next 20 minutes with Midgley looking unsettled and anxious so it was a relief to the home camp when Stansfield’s flicked header set up George Bamford, who produced a good first touch and smart finish.

Midgley then looked the better side, without creating too much, but they fell behind again on the hour when Gary Hodgson miscued a clearance, the ball looped up into the air, Butterworth hesitated and Carrington was first to react.

Rodgers’ back post header from a set piece made it 2-2 and Stansfield’s shot from the right into the top corner won it for the hosts.

Copley United and Hebden Royd Red Star drew 3-3 in the day’s other Premier game.

Red Star blasted into a 2-0 lead through Lewis Cockroft and player-boss Chris Garbutt but the visitors’ fortunes took a turn for the worse when Dan Lumb blocked an effort on his own goal line with his arm, was dismissed and Copley scored from the spot.

A header over the ‘keeper made it 2-2 in the second half but Cockroft dribbled past three Copley players to pave the way for Patrick Thomas to edge Red Star back in front. However, Copley got their third with 15 minutes left.

Boss Rob Kenworthy got the response he was hoping for when Calder ‘76 thumped visitors Sowerby Bridge 4-0 in the Challenge Cup.

Calder had been “awful” at Greetland the previous week, according to their manager, and their previously solid-looking defence had looked vulnerable.

But the Valley side were back on their game against a Bridge side relegated from the top flight last season.

“We were good - clinical. It was the sort of game we would have drawn 1-1 last year or the year before,” said Kenworthy.

Right back Paul Ashman marked his return from a lengthy absence with the cross from which Jonny Gibson opened the scoring in the first five minutes.

Ben Fairburn scored twice before half time and it could have been worse for the visitors had their ‘keeper not performed heroics.

Sub James Megson got the final goal after good work from Steve Jones and Gibson.

Midgley United Reserves and Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves moved smoothly through to the second round of the Invitation Cup but Calder ‘76 Reserves crashed out by 7-1 to last season’s beaten finalists Ryburn United Reserves.

An excellent first half display paved the way for Midgley’s 4-1 win over Greetland. Youngsters Henry Butterworth and Sam Tattersall capped fine showings with a goal each and James Balmforth and Simon Kavanagh got the visitors’ other goals.

Red Star Reserves beat their Salem counterparts 6-2 with four goals from Rhys Deanand others from Ben Barker and Scott Clarke.

Calder Reserves were disrupted by early injuries to centre backs Nathan Sim and Matty McCambridge.