Saints shoot 10 points clear

Ivy House v Junction. Ryan Murphy.
Ivy House v Junction. Ryan Murphy.

Illingworth St Mary’s have opened up a 10-point lead at the top of the Halifax AFL after brushing aside Greetland 8-0 in one of only two Premier Division games to go ahead.

Hat-tricks from John Booth and Callum Cook, plus other goals from Gareth Gaukroger and Damien Randall made it 11 straight wins for the Trinity Academy side, who won all 24 league games in Division One last season.

Success ramped up the pressure on sole title rivals Ryburn United, who are a massive 17 points behind from five games left.

Ryburn’s game away to Warley Rangers, the derby between Hebden Royd Red Star and Calder 76 and Sowerby United’s home game against Shelf United were postponed.

Second-placed Midgley United were beaten 2-0 at home by Northowram, who moved up to third with a solid all-round team performance.

The first half was high in effort but low in quality with neither keeper particularly troubled. Lewis Oldridge missed a couple of good chances for the visitors after he had kicked one of the line from George Bamford at the other end.

In the final 15 minutes of the half Northowram keeper James Bunn produced a good block and Ryan Jeffries was inches away from touching a low cross into the empty net.

The best move of the half produced the Rams’ opening goal a minute before the break.

A couple of perfectly-executed one-twos between Archie Birchall and Declan Allchin opened up the resolute home defence, culminating in Allchin’s neat finish.

Midgley began the second half strongly but missed three good chances in the opening 20 minutes, one of which brought a smart save from Bunn.

As the home side pressed for the equaliser, the Rams could have extended their lead but Matt Calland tamely side-footed when well placed and Oldridge shot straight at the keeper.

The Rams felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty when Oldridge appeared to be pushed over but Mark Eade clinched victory four minutes after coming on, taking the ball wide of the onrushing keeper before slotting home from a narrow angle with eight minutes left.

Sowerby Bridge won 5-0 at Holmfield in the battle of the top two in Division Two with Lee Wood (three) doing much of the damage and Ryan Brook and Damien Watkins getting the others.

Ryburn United Reserves had a useful 4-2 win over Halifax FA Cup semi-finalists Brighouse Sports with opposing players Richard Redhead and Connor Durkin scoring twice each.

Denholme United were 6-0 winners away Salem Reserves and climbed above Brighouse into fifth.

Honours finished even in the match between title combatants Ivy House and Junction Inn in Division Two.

Jordan Powell, Hayden Kerris and Scott Eastwood scored for leaders while Ryan Barkham (two) and Jonathan Handley replied for third-placed Junction, who have also dropped seven points but need to win their two games in hand,

Second-placed Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves ended Northowram Reserves’ long winning run by a 3-1 scoreline.

Saints started strongly down the hill on a heavy pitch at Northowram Rec and it was no surprise when Bailey Naylor headed them in front.

Moments later Naylor added his second and his 24th of the season with a neat finish following a fine move.

Just before the break Northowram pulled a goal back with a shot which beat keeper Tony Clarke.

The second half was a tight affair with clear cut chances limited.

But midway through the half a Harvey Partington cross was spilled by keeper James Fearnley and man of the match Tom Holroyd stabbed the ball home.

Two goals apiece from Danny Hutchinson and Matthew Clark helped AFC Crossleys Reserves beat bottom side Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves 4-3. Ben Barker (two) and Alex Conwell replied,

The derby between the reserve sides from Sowerby Bridge and Sowerby United went the visitors’ way by 3-1.

Shelf FC won 5-2 in their re-arranged West Riding Trophy game at Pannal Sports on Saturday to move through to the last eight.

The Halifax AFL middle-section side will be away to Wortley next.