RASTRICK Bowling Club manager Kevin O’Brien revealed last week he was “quietly confident” his charges could take all three points in their top of the table six-pointer against Stallions FC, and had every right to be after they delivered a resounding 3-0 victory last Sunday, writes Andy Dawson.
It took only five minutes for the Rastrickians to put their stamp of authority on the match.
Frank Cullen, so often vital in both creating and scoring goals, carved open the Stallions defence only for his shot to come back off the post and front man Tom Mellor needed no second invitation to snap up the rebound for a perfect opening.
With a number of tight offside decisions going to the benefit of the visiting defence, Rastrick kept their composure and kept plying away for more goals and were duly rewarded.
It was Mellor again who found the back of the net, eventually evading both the Stallions’ rear-guard and referee’s whistle before coolly slotting home.
In what O’Brien described as a “near perfect performance” the match continued firmly with the local title chasers in the ascendancy, as the league leaders found themselves three goals down at the interval.
A clearance from goal landed invitingly at the feet of Mark Holroyd on the edge of the box and he emphatically smashed it back to give his side a momentous half-time three-goal cushion.
With no goals in the second half it gave O’Brien the chance to also laud his side’s defensive effort against opponents who had previously plundered 58 goals in just 12 league outings. All 14 who took to the field played a vital part in the victory, but to shut out the league leaders and nearest rivals was particularly pleasing for the club.
With bottom placed side The Vine Reserves to come this weekend, and momentum rapidly growing, optimism is very high in the Rastrick camp, as the side now sit five points behind Stallions with a game in hand.
The task facing The Vine Reserves is a pretty daunting one considering their recent form, as fellow former Brighouse SFL side Triangle trounced the strugglers 12-0 at the weekend.
‘Angle remain in contention nestled nicely on the coat-tails of Rastrick in third place.
The third Brighouse side in Division Two Top Club, perhaps came a cropper due to the unexpected recent resurgence of perennial strugglers Halifax Rangers Reserves.
Mel Owens’ side recorded back to back victories for the first time in their history, also winning by a club record 7-2 margin. Shaun Byrne netted a hat-trick for Rangers who have defied all odds to pull themselves to within two points of Top Club with a game in hand.
In Division One, both Sun Inn and Old Pond picked up impressive victories, while Thornhill Briggs’ scheduled tie with Elland was postponed after heavy rain.
Pond responded magnificently from a heavy cup defeat last time out, with a very welcome 3-2 defeat of previously second placed side Lee Mount.
Captain and versatile all-rounder Paul Taylor resumed a more favoured attacking role in this outing, and as ever proved his worth in front of goal giving the Hove Edge side a lead.
Paul Meredith and Tom Carter went on to hand Pond a 3-0 advantage, with Ryan Richardson’s work-rate and quality also to the fore in a very accomplished performance.
Last year’s Division Two champions had second half chances, but Ben Briggs was excellent in goal, and despite a brief wobble with five minutes to go where Pond shipped in two, the three points were secured.
With Queens Head winning just below Pond in the league standings, the victory provided an even more valuable three points on which Richard Dawson’s side can build.
At the top of the table Lee Nicholson’s Sun Inn faced difficult opponents on the back of last week’s blip against new league leaders FC Champs, as they fronted up to the challenge of divisional new boys Cock & Bottle.
The Southowram side proved tough opponents for their Rastrick rivals, but goals from Aaron Brook and Rob Malone gave the locals a solid 2-1 victory.
That victory leaves Sun nicely placed in third place in Division One with 24 points from 10 outings, just two points behind Champs at the summit but with two games in hand.
Forthcoming fixtures , Sunday, December 4, Bridge Balti Halifax Sunday League – Division One (11am kick off): Elland Sports Res v Old Pond (Elland Cricket Club), Halifax Rangers v Sun Inn (Savile Park 3), Thornhill Briggs v Hollins Holme (Hipp & Light H.S.).
Division Two (11am kick off): Greetland Goldstars v Triangle (Greetland Comm. Centre), Rastrick Bowling Club v The Vine Res (Carr Green Rec), Top Club v tallions FC (Lane Head 1).