Midgley United’s frustrating wait for a first cup final appearance under manager Craig Gee is over.
Greg Spink’s goal 10 minutes from time helped Midgley beat Shelf United 2-1 in last Saturday’s Challenge Cup last-four contest at Ripponden.
It’s great for the club that both teams are in finalsMidgley manager Craig Gee
The Halifax AFL leaders will meet Warley or Northowram in the final of a competition usually held at The Shay.
Gee, who took over from Stuart Spencer in 2006, has led Midgley to title successes and has been dismayed by a string of early cup exits.
That has changed this season and he said: “I’m chuffed to bits. It’s been a while coming. Now we have got to make sure we win it.”
It could be a double celebration because the reserves play Ryburn United Reserves in the Invitation Cup final.
“It’s great for the club that both teams are in finals,” added Gee.
Midgley dictated the play early on but a bobbly, drying surface made control difficult and there were few openings in a goalless first half.
Toby Standring made the breakthrough for Midgley 10 minutes after the restart when he challenged the ‘keeper and the ball broke for him.
Shelf were soon on terms from a free-kick. Billy Grogan hit a volley and the ball was palmed onto a post by Steve Butterworth before rolling along the line. Another Shelf player ended the debate about whether it had crossed or not.
Shelf threatened to get on top and the game developed into a good battle. With extra time on the cards, Midgley attacked down their left and Spink hit a low, first-time shot into the net from 18 yards.
Midgley had a scare or two but held on.
Gee added: “It was a good game - a tight battle. We were organised and defended well.”
The cup win completed a near perfect day for Midgley with the reserves likely to get three points due to Volunteer Arms unable to raise a team and Red Star sinking the firsts’ main title rivals Stump Cross.
“The Red Star result was a bit of a shock but it was a top result for us.
“We have got a third of the season left and Stump are just past half-way in their fixtures so there is still a lot of football still to be played.
“We have got seven league games left and they are all very difficult but we have got to try to win them all.
Gee said that it was to the players’ credit that they still had bright hopes of two first team trophies against a backlog of non-stop injuries.
The picture got worse last week when central defender Andy Butterworth and striker Tom Booth had casts fitted.
Butterworth has a fractured bone on the outside of his right foot but may be able to play as soon as the cast is removed after three weeks.
Booth may not play again this season due to problems with the ankle he broke in a Sunday cup final at the end of last season. He is back in plaster until the end of March.
Joe Gibson, James Adey and Jamie Coward are long-term injury victims.
Gee expects a tough game on Saturday at home to Ryburn, whose hopes of retaining the title have revived with four successive wins.
Saturday - Premier: Calder 76 v Elland Utd (Referee C.King) , Copley Utd v Warley Rangers, Greetland v Shelf, Midgley v Ryburn (R.Varley), Sowerby v Northowram.
Division One: Crossleys v Mixenden, Elland A’stars v Sowerby Bridge, Holmfield v Greetland Res, Hx Irish v Stainland, Ryburn Res v Denholme, Salem v Midgley Res (I.Childs), Volunteer v Calder Res (N.Hinson).
Division Two: Brighouse Sp v Crossleys Res, Denholme Res v Sowerby Utd Res, Hebden Royd RS Res v Salem Res (S.Bragg), Northowram Res v Illingworth SM, Shelf United Res v St Columbas (D.Sutcliffe).
Halifax FA Cup: Stump Cross v Brighouse T.