Hoyle answers SOS from leaders

Football - Illingworth St Mary's v Mixenden. Brandon Field for Illingworth and Brad Smith for Mixenden.

Football - Illingworth St Mary's v Mixenden. Brandon Field for Illingworth and Brad Smith for Mixenden.

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Illingworth St Mary’s have referee Steve Hoyle to thank for them powering six points clear at the top of Division One in the Haslem Sheppard Halifax AFL.

Their home game with Ryburn United Reserves on the 3G pitch at Trinity Academy, Holmfield was the only one in the league to go ahead on Saturday.

However, even that was in doubt when the designated official failed to appear as players from both teams waited around in blizzard conditions.

An emergency phone call to Hoyle paid dividends and after the game had kicked off at 3pm, Illingworth notched a 4-2 win to make it 11 wins from 11 in the league this season.

Ryburn starter the better as the snow came down but got hit on the counter attack after 10 minutes. A Lee Cartwright through ball found Brandon Field, who beat the ‘keeper from the edge of the box.

Ryburn hit back from a long range free kick with home ‘keeper Rab Langley fumbling the ball into his own net.

Conditions worsened and the first half ended with Saints taking the lead through Gareth Gaukroger, who pounced in the box.

The second half was difficult for both teams in deteriorating conditions.

Illingworth had the better of the possession and went 4-1 up with two goals in quick succession.

Callum Cook fired past the ‘keeper from 25 yards on the 60 minute mark and then Gaukroger notched a penalty after Brandon Field was brought down.

Paddy Partington’s long throws were causing problems for the Ryburn defence but Illingworth were unable to capitalise and Ryburn nicked one back with 10 minutes to go.