Division Two side St Columba’s pulled off the shock of the Halifax AFL Challenge Cup’s first round with a 2-1 home win over last season’s third-placed Premier Division finishers Mixenden United.
Saints were good value for their success, Mixenden pulling a goal back with three minutes left after their hosts had wasted numerous chances to kill off the game.
Saints opened the scoring on 15 minutes when a pinpoint Jack Dobson free kick was nodded in by lively striker Vinny O’Shea.
The young, quick home forwards were a constant threat to the Mixenden back four, getting in behind at regular intervals during the first half.
Ryan O’Neill and George Cook spurned opportunities but Cook made amends on 30 minutes when he pounced on a loose defensive header and calmly lifted the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper.
Mixenden changed things around at half time and came out fighting with a strong wind at their backs.
Their ‘keeper launched booming kicks into the Saints half but centre backs Jack Dobson and Kieron Wright stood firm and there were some brave takes from young goalkeeper Maccauley Richardson.
Saints still looked the more likely to score on the break with O’Shea, Scott Holmes and Kutubo Touray all having a couple of chances.
A combination of decent saves and wayward finishing left the score at 2-0 until Mixenden ensured a nervy last couple of minutes by pulling one back.
Midgley United, Illingworth St Mary’s and Calder ‘76 registered big wins.
Midgley won 7-2 at Greetland, really turning the screw in the second half after leading 2-1 at the break.
Chris Woodhouse scored the first two goals, with a low drive from inside the 18-yard box and then a good finish from an acute angle, but Karl Jowett kept Greetland in the hunt.
George Bamford picked up a long pass from Joe Gibson to make it 3-1 and substitute Sam Tattersall took advantage of good work from Martin Woodhouse down the right to extend the visitors’ advantage.
Adie Ford got Greetland’s second but Midgley pulled clear in the last quarter thanks to Martin Woodhouse’s good finish, Greg Spink’s effort from close range and a Ryan Jeffries solo after a mazy run through the middle.
Holders Illingworth powered through by 10-3 at home to AFC Crossleys with the help of hat-tricks from John Booth and Joe Griffin plus two from Phil Livesey.
Calder ‘76 cruised into the second round with a surprisingly easy 8-1 win at Sowerby United.
Some woeful defending by the home side helped Calder make the game safe well before half time.
Seventeen-year-old full back Ben Oldfield set the ball rolling, burying the ball into the top corner.
Two goals each from Ricky Topham and Remi Allen plus one for Zac Greenwood gave Calder a six goal interval lead.
Topham completed his hat-trick before Conor Ashworth pulled one back. It was left to Sam Cartwright to complete the rout.
The new rule removing extra time applied at Northowram, where the home side went through 5-3 on spot kicks at the expense of Hebden Royd Red Star after a 4-4 draw.
The Rams started in positive fashion up the slope but the visitors, with their more direct approach, missed three clear chances before Will Chadwick gave them the lead after 24 minutes.
James Bunn made a couple of saves before Star were reduced to 10 men following Joe Januszczyk’s unsavoury tackle on youngster Jacob Turner on 35 minutes.
Rams’ substitute Shaun Popek ran on to the pitch and tangled with the offender, for which he was also shown a red card.
From the resultant free kick, Lewis Oldridge flighted the equaliser over Joe Kidder’s head.
A minute before the break Chris Gent’s telling pass released Chris Conroy, whose shot was turned into his own net by a defender to give the Rams a fortuitous half-time lead.
Mark Eade increased the lead four minutes after the restart. He then shot wide of an empty net but redeemed himself after 75 minutes when a poor goal kick landed straight at this feet.
Northowram took their foot off the pedal. Chadwick rounded Bunn before slotting home his second, a thunderous left foot shot from Lewis Cockroft made it 4-3 and Cockroft took advantage of hesitation in the home defence to level.
In the penalty shoot-out, the first six spot kicks were successful. Eade scored the seventh but Patrick Thomas’s effort was saved by Bunn, leaving Josh Baines to send the Rams into the next round.
There were big home wins for Ryburn Reserves (10-0 against Crossley’s Reserves), Midgley Reserves (9-0 against Hebden Royd RS Reserves) and Ivy House (7-0 against Northowram Reserves) in the first round of the Invitation Cup.
Ryburn United are up to second after winning Saturday’s only Premier Division match, by 6-1 away to Copley United.
Tom Hiley scored twice for last season’s league runners-up against a Copley side which has lost its opening four games.
Sowerby Bridge and Shelf FC are first and second in Division One after convincing home wins.
Bridge beat Salem 5-1 with four goals from Lee Wood while Kyle Peel struck twice for Shelf in a 3-0 home win over third-placed Holmfield.
Elland Allstars picked up their first point in a 1-1 draw with visitors Brighouse Sports.