WITH no games in Division One of The Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League for local sides, the spotlight fell on the three former Brighouse SFL sides in Division Two at the weekend.
Jimmy Hinks led his Top Club side to a solid victory against sixth placed Ryburn United at Lane Head – the win helped by an early goal from Jamie Clay.
In a strong opening from the Rastrick side – the lead was doubled with barely quarter of an hour played. Matthew Spink, whose set piece delivery caused problems all match, lofted a free kick to the back post where Luke Heffernan rose highest to head home under challenge.
A young Ryburn outfit responded strongly – and Carl Butler had to make an acrobatic tip over the bar to preserve the locals lead, before from the ensuing corner the ball had to be scrambled off the Top Club line by a well-placed defender.
At the other end Nick Spence was pipped to the ball by the United keeper who rushed off his line sharply – and better still launched Route One up field to create a goal back for the visitors. The Ryburn striker gallopped on to the punt and finished well.
Spence was to have more luck moving into the second half – as Top Club started to dominate and take the game away from United.
The front man smashed home from close range twice, the first after James Lord’s initial effort was well parried – and the points looked in the bag at 4-1 to the Rastrickeans.
The youthful visitors battled gamely however – and with TC perhaps stepping off the gas too much enjoyed some good pressure in the last twenty minutes. They snatched a goal back with a well-executed strike into the top corner – and came close on a number of other occasions but found Butler – and his post in one instance a formidable barrier.
Heffernan was unlucky not to add a fifth as Top Club secured victory to move within two points of their opponents in the league standings, but struck the post late on with a well-executed shot.
Kevin O’Brien’s Rastrick Bowling Club side faced tough opponents in Royd Club at Carr Green – but were once more left ruing missed opportunities as the promotion chasers were held to a 2-2 draw.
For the third match in a row, an own goal aided O’Brien’s side as they went ahead from a corner – but they had already failed to take four or five gilt-edged chances by this point.
With the first half drawing to a close, Joel Abdy had to leave the field of play with a broken nose – and during the reshuffle Craig Mitchell brought down the Royd winger in the penalty area and the visitors struck level from the spot.
When Arran Burnside looped a brave header into the net over the onrushing keeper to put Rastrick ahead again they should have closed out the game, but once more were too profligate in front of goal. Captain Frank Cullen went the nearest with a couple of good shooting opportunities.
The sucker punch came after a scramble in the Rastrick area – the Royd centre forward saw the ball pop up in his path and nodded over the keeper to grab a share of the spoils despite some late pressure from the home side.
David Whiteley’s Triangle side continued their good form with a 4-2 defeat of strugglers Halifax Rangers Reserves to remain in second spot in the table.
Sun Inn were due to travel to Thornhill Briggs in Division One for a much anticipated local derby – but for the third consecutive match their opponents failed to raise a side. The previous no-shows involving Cock & Bottle and then nearest title rivals Oddfellows should see the Rastrick side pick up nine points without taking to the field, but the lack of matches was understandably described as a joke by a Sun Inn source. The leagues next meeting on April 2nd is likely to adjudge on the recent unprecedented string of postponements.
Lee Nicholson’s side will now tackle this weekend’s huge League Cup Semi Final with little match practice under their belts.
Next Fixtures, Bridge Balti League Cup – semi-final: Sun Inn v Elland Sports Reserves (Greetland Comm. Centre)
Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League – Division One: Cock & Bottle v Old Pond (Savile Park), Oddfellows v Thornhill Briggs (Savile Park).
Division Two: Hebden Bridge AFC v Triangle (Holmes Pk, Lud’denden Foot), Rastrick Bowling Club v The Vine Reserves (Carr Green), Royd Club FC v Top Club (Brearley Fields, Mytholmroyd). All kick offs 11am.