Gilling strike takes Warley to Shay

Football - Warley v Midgley United. Brandon Gilling for Warley and Ian Hudson for Midgley.

Football - Warley v Midgley United. Brandon Gilling for Warley and Ian Hudson for Midgley.

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Brandon Gilling’s goal three minutes from the end gave Warley Rangers a 2-1 win over Northowram and earned his side a Challenge Cup final showdown with Midgley United at The Shay.

Saturday’s semi-final was at Midgley’s ground and the teams had to contend with a very strong wind.

Northowram had the advantage of it, and the slope, in the opening 45 minutes but their over-hasty and careless passing meant there was little threat, leaving the game shapeless in the extreme.

A Carlton Balmer header was the closest Warley came and from the only passing move of note in the opening 45 minutes Shaun Popek forced the ball home to put the Rams ahead after 23 minutes.

In the second half Warley played the conditions better than the Rams had done earlier and Tom Hiley’s shot on the turn flew inches wide. They also hit the bar.

Despite the midfield promptings of Danny King, the Rams’ only two meaningful chances came 20 minutes from the end as Chris Conroy’s shot was saved at the near post and a Danny Rushworth header was cleared off the line.

The goal that Warley had been threatening came five minutes later when a wind-assisted bouncing ball beat the Rams’ defence and Hiley tucked the ball past James Bunn.

Boosted by the equaliser, Warley finished the stronger and only a brilliant save from Bunn to deny Hiley kept his side on level terms. However, Gilling’s shot from outside the area through a crowded goalmouth gave Bunn no chance.