It was a good day for Old Pond in The Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League First Division, as Richard Dawson’s side saw off the determined challenge of Queens Head, whilst Hollins Holme beat previous nearest rivals Oddfellows, writes Andy Dawson.
Pond started the match with a degree of control and were the better side in the first period. Lee Williams and captain, Joe Shaw put in some crunching early tackles in a well contested match.
It was centre half Williams who took the plaudits with a rampaging run from defence to set up the opener, his barn-storming charge culminated in Stephen Ashford finishing off in style.
It was Ashford again who doubled the Hove Edge side’s lead before the break with his thirteenth goal of the campaign. Craig Chew made a good double save from Shaw, before Ashford stole the ball off team-mate Paul Taylor’s foot as the home side lined up to put the rebound home.
The Pond management team were wary of Queens Head’s threat on the break having scouted them the week prior , and sure enough Ben Briggs had to save smartly twice from counter attacks by the visitors to preserve his side’s lead.
Substitute Luke Eastwood made an impact for Queens as they did get a goal back into the second period, as Pond played nice football at times but were struggling to find the final ball to put the match out of sight.
The nerves were settled for a while when Glen Lee’s mercurial pass was calmly strolled into the back of the net by leading marksman Taylor for 3-1, but again the visitors countered and made for a nervy ending as Tom Atkinson found the net to make it 3-2.
Pond held on to secure a vital three points without ever hitting the heights they have at times this season and, following Hollins win over Oddfellows, now sit five points clear at the top of the table. Oddfellows, Hollins and form side Bradshaw all have games in hand entering the winter months however in what looks like being an entertaining title race with plenty of twists to come.
Rastrick Bowling Club continued to struggle in the division following their promotion and a mix of injuries and absenteeism left Kevin O’Brien once more frustrated as they fell to defeat against Stallions.
The Rastrick sides luck wasn’t helped by a recent spate of decent signings by the previously off form Sowerby Bridge outfit who ran out 7-2 winners as the locals could only field ten men.
Dave Lawrence was the pick for O’Brien’s charges who need bodies back or fresh signings to rescue a slump in their season. Their opponents on the day perhaps showing that a turnaround is possible as they have now won two on the bounce following a dismal start.
In Division Two Top Club flattered to deceive against a Halifax Rangers side who upped the ante to put in their best performance of the campaign.
The Rastrick side still managed to get over the line and pick up maximum points however thanks to a first half Nick Delaney penalty and late break away finish from Dan McLeod. Mike Kellett gave Rangers hope of securing an unlikely point but McLeod’s goal sealed a 2-1 win.
FC Barge should have contested one of the most anticipated encounters of the weekend against impressive Bradford Premier League side Buttershaw White Star in the West Riding County Cup.
Unfortunately injuries and work commitments in the run up to Christmas meant that Glen Hall was unable to field a side thus forfeiting the tie. The manager assuaged any suggestions of a repeat, however stating that FC Barge are looking to expand their squad and rally together for the rest of an otherwise successful and trouble free campaign.
Fixtures, Premier Division: Mount Tabor v FC Barge (Natty Lane, Illingworth). Division One: Old Pond v Triangle (Lane Head), Rastrick Bowling Club v Bradshaw (Carr Green Rec). Division Two: North Bridge FC v Top Club (Savile Park, Hx)