Conroy’s late winner for Rams
A Chris Conroy goal five minutes from time gave surprise packet Northowram a 1-0 win at Ryburn United in Saturday’s Halifax AFL battle of the champions.
Last season’s Division One title-winners were making it five wins from seven outings in the top flight and went above Ryburn, who won the Premier for their first time in their history earlier this year.
A scrappy, keenly-fought game was high in endeavour but low in quality.
It was 20 minutes before the first glimpse of a goal with Ryburn’s Reece Uttley just unable to get on the end of a through ball, quickly followed by James Bunn’s one-handed save from a free kick.
The Rams’ only two chances in the first half fell to Mark Eade, who headed straight at the ‘keeper and also had an angled shot bounce narrowly wide.
The sides cancelled each other out after the break. In the final 15 minutes the Rams had slightly the better of things with half chances to Danny Rushworth and Karl Amos but they almost fell behind when an inswinging corner nearly crept in.
Bunn kept his side in the game with a brilliant fingertip save from Uttley and the deciding goal came when Eade won a tackle wide on the right, chipped into the area and the ball broke loose for Conroy to add an assured finish.
Stump Cross stamped themselves as title favourites with a late winner in a 4-3 success away to Calder ‘76, who had been unbeaten in five games.
Jonny Gibson drew first blood for Calder but Stump made the most of their set piece opportunities to storm into a 3-1 interval lead.
Gibson reduced the deficit with a penalty for hand-ball and Max Crossley calmly slotted the equaliser.
However, Stump got the winner from a corner with five minutes left, Damian Watkins finishing with a hat-trick for the winners and displaying his power in the air. Ben Hiley got their other goal.
Leaders Midgley United steadied their ship after a shock Halifax FA Cup exit to Mixenden with a 7-2 win away to Elland United.
It looked plain sailing when they charged into a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes through Rob Stansfield’s good finish from 12 yards, George Bamford and an Andrew Butterworth penalty after Bamford had been fouled.
Elland got into the contest with two quick goals from Connah Judson and kerry Moncaster but Calum Rodgers scored at the back post from a Bamford cross and Rob Stansfield made it 5-2 at the break from a well-worked Andy Butterworth free-kick.
The hosts created more in the second half but Midgley extended their lead through Bamford, from Stansfield’s ball over the top, and Greg Spink’s good finish from 18 yards.
Greetland survived a tough first 20 minutes away to Shelf United to win 5-3.
Shelf missed several chances early on but Greetland weathered the storm and took the lead five minutes before half time through Jonny Crowther’s near post tap in.
Greetland produced some speedy and effective counter-attacks in the second half with Matt Hopley and Tom Wall scoring twice each.
The visitors romped 3-0 ahead down the slope and although Danny Thornton got one back after some good passing, Greetland replied immediately.
A Jimmy Hiley own goal and a scrambled effort from Billy Grogan with 10 minutes left made it 3-4 but Shelf’s defensive deficiencies were highlighted when the visitors got their clinching fifth goal almost immediately.
Hebden Royd Red Star are up to third after a 5-3 home win over Copley United.
Player-manager Chris Garbutt thought Star had played their best football of the season in the first half but they missed a hatful of chances and turned round trailing 1-0.
Pat Thomas’s long throw set up an equaliser from Lewis Cockroft and Thomas then gave Star the lead.
Copley equalised and then went 3-2 up after Richard Laycock conceded a penalty, Brendan Barclay getting a hand to the spot kick but failing to keep the ball out of the net.
The flurry of scoring activity continued when Dan Lumb made it 3-3.
The home side scored twice in the last 15 minutes to take the spoils with Cockroft and Norman on target, Norman scoring with a 40-yard cross from out on the touchline which curled into the top corner.
A Carlton Balmer hat-trick helped Warley Rangers to a 6-1 win at Sowerby United.
The home side started well and missed a couple of good chances before Warley went in front.
The lead was soon doubled before Sowerby started to boss the game but were wasteful in front of goal.
Sowerby finally managed to find the net through Andrew Wadsworth’s thunderous 30 yard free kick.
However, more chances were wasted before Warley showed the home side how it was done, their other scorers being Reece Brady, Jordan Trowell and Tom Hiley.
Calder ‘76 Reserves put seven goals past Division One whipping boys Greetland Reserves for the second week running.
They followed up a 7-1 home success with a 7-2 away win at Greetland Community Centre and ex-Wadsworth player Matty Marsden bagged his second successive hat-trick.
Centre back Matty McCambridge scored twice and a Scott Dawson penalty and a Gav Martin goal accounted for the rest of Calder’s tally.
Stainland United got off the mark at the 10th attempt with a surprise 7-5 home win over AFC Crossleys, who have gone off the boil after a bright start to the season.
There were hat-tricks for two players - Stainland’s Paul Friend and Crossleys’ David Maguire.
Leaders Holmfield remain six points clear of Mixenden United and Volunteer Arms, having played two games more than their rivals.
The top trio all won with Volunteer having the closest match, edging past Ryburn United Reserves 4-3 with Gareth Robertshaw scoring a hat-trick for the losers.
Holmfield won 4-0 away to Salem with Chris Woodhouse getting two of their goals while Mixenden thrashed visitors Denholme United 9-0 with Damien Randall and Adam Gaze bagging seven between them.
Mixenden were two up in six minutes through Mark Machon and Gaze.
Randall and an own goal stretched the lead to 4-0 at half time and Randall scored three more and Gaze two more in the second half.
Danny Johnson shone in the Mixenden midfield while fullback Brad Smith was their man of the match.
Midgley Reserves registered their third successive league win with a 4-1 home success over Sowerby Bridge.
James Balmforth got all their goals and Darren Nelson missed a penalty.
Midgley were solid under pressure and hit Bridge, who were in the Premier last season, effectively on the break.
Halifax Irish Centre picked up their fifth point of the season in a 3-3 draw at home to Elland Allstars.
Salem Reserves and Denholme United Reserves produced shock results in Division Two.
Lowly Salem annihilated Northowram Reserves 6-0 while Denholme lowered Brighouse Sports’ colours for the first time this season with a 1-0 success at Foster Park.
Salem were recording their biggest victory in more than eight years and avenging a defeat three weeks earlier.
Manager James Hings had an unchanged line-up and his belief that the form of Josh Skinner and CJ Waddington out wide would reap rewards proved right.
Both made outstanding contributions and each scored sensational goals from 25 yards.
Scott Fieldhouse scored two early goals as the Rams struggled to cope with his pace and Salem had a four goal lead in 20 minutes with James Broadbent also scoring from a narrow angle.
The second half was a closer affair but veteran Paul Manning pulled the strings in the centre for Salem and Martin Jenkins smashed a left foot half volley into the top corner from 30 yards to seal a convincing victory.
James Judson got the all-important goal for Denholme Reserves, who are now one of four teams on 22 points at the top.
Brighouse are still top on goal difference, and have played fewer games than Shelf FC, St Columbas and Denholme.
Shelf missed a chance to go top when held 4-4 by struggling visitors Sowerby United Reserves while St Columbas were without a game.