Leaders Red Star struggle to beat the bottom team

Hebden Royd Red Star got back to winning ways in unconvincing style as they made hard work of a 4-3 home victory over Ryburn United Reserves in Division One of the Halifax AFL.

Manager Dave Whitehouse made three changes from the previous week’s draw at Northowram. Jamie Eaton replaced Danny Gilfillan in the backline and Jordan Dean moved to left back from left midfield, Simon Leah being promoted from the bench.

The league leaders were pegged back inside their own half for the opening quarter as they struggled to get to grips with Ryburn’s extra man in midfield.

After numerous scares, Red Star took the lead as Ryan Thomas broke down the left and clipped the ball to the back post where Eddy Harvey nodded home from eight yards out.

The opening goal settled Star’s nerves and they doubled the lead shortly afterwards. Daniel Lumb picked up the ball in space in the centre of the field and played a perfect ball through for Harvey, who ran clear and finished low beyond the ’keeper.

The hosts seemed to become complacent and Ryburn got back into the match shortly before half time, winning two aerial duels before an attacker drilled a low shot beyond Glynn Claxton from 20 yards.

Star responded well and restored their two goal advantage before the break. James Chadwick slid the ball through for right back Harry West, who cut back onto his left foot and curled a shot beyond the ‘keeper from the edge of the area.

As in the first half, the visitors started the second period the stronger and reduced the arrears almost immediately as a loose ball was brilliantly volleyed into the top corner from 25 yards, leaving Claxton with no chance.

On a boggy surface, the rest of the half was a scrappy affair with few chances. Red Star looked edgy but the tension was eased with 15 minutes left as they took a 4-2 lead.

Some excellent play down the left was followed by Leah’s low ball across the six yard box. It found Harvey, arriving at the back post, to drill home for his hat-trick.

The visitors set up a nervy final few moments as West and Eaton failed to deal with a long ball into the box, allowing the Ryburn forward to nip in and poke the ball beyond Claxton, but Star held on and maintained their one point lead.

In the Premier, Midgley United had a notable 4-3 home win over leaders Stump Cross while Calder ‘76’s game away to champions Elland United was postponed.

Andy Bottomley was on target as Midgley United Reserves lost 4-1 away to their Shelf counterparts but Calder ‘76 Reserves continued on their merry way in Division Three with a 12-2 thrashing of Volunteer Arms Reserves.

Calder were making it 30 goals in 180 minutes, having thrashed West Central 18-1 the previous week, and James Megson followed up his six-goal haul in the first game with another five while James Jackson bagged another hat-trick.