Shelf FC go clear at top

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Shelf FC have a three point lead at the top of the Halifax AFL Premier Division after surviving a scare to beat visitors Sowerby United 5-3 at Westwood Park on Saturday.

Matthew Till’s side have won four in a row after their opening draw at Northowram but they had to fend off a determined fightback from the visitors.

Shelf, last season’s Division One champions, played well in the opening 45 minutes and roared into a 4-1 lead with a brace from tricky winger Alex O’Keefe and others from Calum Lewis and Sam Henderson.

However, they appeared to take their foot off the gas and Sowerby needed no second invitation, hitting back to 4-3 before skipper Jack Hartley settled matters with a long-range thunderbolt.

Till gave credit to Sowerby and hoped his side had learned a lesson - that they must play for 90 minutes in the Premier.

Sowerby Bridge missed a chance to go second when they were held 3-3 at Hebden Royd Red Star and they needed two late goals to stay unbeaten following promotion.

A tap-in from Lewis Cockroft and a shot from the edge of the box by George Oliver gave Star a 2-0 lead but Bridge got one back with a free kick from the edge of the penalty area before half time.

James Speechley restored the Calder Valley side’s two-goal advantage when he curled the ball home, having gone through one-on-one with the keeper, but Bridge scored from a free-kick and then equalised after a bout of head tennis in which the ball was cleared off the line by home player-boss Chris Garbutt and also hit the bar before Kai Hadley finally nodded home.

Garbutt said his side would have settled for a point beforehand but after leading 3-1 entering the closing stages it had felt like a defeat.

Denholme United retained the lead of Division One in spite of being on cup duty with Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves and Brighouse Sports unable to take advantage.

Saints lost 3-1 at home to Calder ‘76 Reserves, for whom Gav Martin struck twice, while Sports lost 5-3 away to Salem. Nick Green (Salem) and Gary Binns (Sports) also scored twice each.

However, that trio were all eclipsed by Ryburn Reserves’ Nathan Hargreaves, who bagged a hat-trick as the Ripponden Wood side shot up to second with a 5-2 win away to Ivy House.

In Division Two, St Columba’s ran out comfortable 5-0 winners away at Sowerby United Reserves.

Ryan O’Neill gave them the lead from just outside the area before Frank Odion made it 2-0 with a spectacular overhead kick.

James Stansfield was in great form and he made it 3-0 with a powerful low drive.

Scott Holmes and Odion added further goals in the second half as Saints picked up back to back wins.

Sowerby Bridge Reserves made it five wins out of five with a 4-2 home success against Greetland Reserves and Shelf United Reserves climbed to third with Josh Norcliffe, Paul Jack and James Dawson giving them a 3-0 win away to Crossleys Reserves.