Halifax AFL lower divisions: Illingworth celebrate

Illingworth St Mary's Division One champions
Illingworth St Mary's Division One champions

Illingworth St Mary’s rubber stamped their status as Division One champions with a gritty 2-1 home victory over rivals St Columbas.

Success in their final game has given them the title by a three-point margin and left Columbas needing victory by a 12 goal margin against bottom side Salem to pip Northowram and secure back to back promotions.

Defences were on top for most of the game at Trinity Academy with Illingworth enjoying the wind at their backs in a strong first half performance.

The goal they deserved came from an error as visiting keeper Macauley Richardson saw his attempted clearance blocked by Brandon Field and the ball rolled into the bottom corner.

Saints improved with the elements in their favour but a wicked Gareth Gaukroger strike which shaved the crossbar was the closest to another goal until Richardson’s booming clearance bounced in behind the Illingworth defence and allowed Frank Odion to improvise with a header, the ball dropping into the net.

A point would have meant that St Columbas could have been promoted with any kind of victory over Salem in their last game but Illingworth had other ideas. David Sudall latched on to a killer pass from Michael Gregory into the left channel and smashed home confidently.

Columbas had 10 minutes to rescue the point they needed and forced a series of wide free kicks and corners. There were a couple of frantic goalmouth scrambles without any success.

Richardson was up in the opposition area for a final corner. The ball was headed goal bound by Ben Caldwell but the keeper got down well to smother and referee Richard Stock blew for time.

The other match in the division failed to go ahead when Mixenden, who looked likely champions at one stage, again failed to raise a team, this time against Brighouse Sports.

AFC Crossleys need just a couple of points from their last five games to be Division Two champions after Connor Castel-Atkinson, Tom Kershaw, Kaylum Payne and Liam Brook fired them to a 4-0 win away to Sowerby United Reserves.

The race for the runners-up berth is intense and Midgley United Reserves dropped two points when held 1-1 at home to Sowerby Bridge Reserves with Joe Lally the home scorer.

Shelf United Reserves went second with a 3-2 win away to Greetland Reserves, helped by a Rowan Binns brace and one for Daniel Abel, but have only one game left.

Northowram Reserves, whipping boys earlier in the season, are up to fifth after Lyndon Armstrong and substitute Hardy Janecki fired them to a 2-0 win at home to Calder ‘76 Reserves.

Crossleys Reserves were unable to raise a team to host Shelf FC Reserves in Division Three.

Flying Dutchman wiped out their goal difference deficit with a 5-2 home success against Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves.