Ryburn United strode into a seven-point lead at the top of the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL with a 2-0 home win over Shelf United in Saturday’s battle of the top two.
Central defender Ashton Richardson struck twice in the opening 10 minutes at Ripponden Wood and the leaders stood firm after having George Turner sent off 10 minutes after the break.
Shelf had been in good form but they made a disastrous start, Richardson heading the opener from a corner and then finding the top corner of the net with a shot on the turn.
Ryburn, who have finished in the top four in each of the last six seasons and were champions in 2013-14, were the better side in the first half and Shelf’s Ethan Daly made a couple of good saves to restrict the damage.
Jonny Butterfield and Billy Grogan had chances as Shelf started to find their feet but the visitors struggled to break down the home side after Turner was dismissed for two yellow card offences in quick succession.
Ryburn sat deeper but with Brad Waddington outstanding in midfield they had few anxious moments.
Calder ‘76 sent champions Illingworth St Mary’s back to the bottom after a 4-1 success in Saturday’s foot of the table game at Trinity Academy.
Two goals each for John Moynes and Jordan Pettifor - who played for Saints in the first half of the season before returning to Calder - gave the visitors their first league win since the opening day of the season when they beat Hebden Royd Red Star 5-3.
Calder boss Rob Kenworthy thought his side had been more clinical in the last third than Illingworth and said: “We played very well, I was really pleased.”
The visitors took the lead after a Steve Jones corner had been half cleared on 10 minutes. Kieran Syme knocked the ball back into the box and Pettifor applied the finishing touch.
Moynes, tripped by Phil Livesey, skied the penalty over the bar and Illingworth went down the other end and equalised following a fine dribbling run down the middle.
Moynes restored the lead with a good finish on 25 minutes and Jones’ run down the right and lovely ball to Pettifor was followed by a brilliant finish into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The second half was scrappier. Illingworth changed their shape and Calder tried to hit them on the counter.
The visitors’ clinching fourth goal came after 65 minutes when the impressive Nathan Dempsey flicked the ball on and Moynes raced through before adding a finish.
Hebden Royd Red Star upset higher-placed hosts Midgley 3-2 in a Calder Valley derby.
Star fielded their strongest team of the season and player-boss Chris Garbutt thought it was their best performance so far while Midgley boss Craig Gee said his side had been “pathetic” for spells during the first half.
The visitors were 2-0 up at the break as Midgley’s home struggles this season continued.
Joe Januszczyk marked his return from a lengthy injury absence by pinging the ball across for Lewis Cockroft to beat ‘keeper Gareth Swain one-on-one.
Star doubled their advantage after James Speechley was fouled in the box. Cockroft hit the bar with his first effort but the referee ruled that Swain had moved too soon, ordered a retake and a relieved Cockroft made no mistake second time around.
Midgley upped their efforts after making changes at the break and Joe Gibson scored from a free-kick. When Greg Spink equalised on the hour mark from the spot, after an offence by Will Boylan, it was game on.
However, Patrick Thomas’s free-kick was headed home at the back post by Will Chadwick after 70 minutes and Star finished in the ascendancy with Cockroft missing chances to make life easier for the visitors.
There were only three matches in Division One, instead of four, because Ryburn could not raise a reserve team for the trip to play Holmfield.
Brighouse Sports closed the gap on top two Denholme United and Illingworth St Mary’s Reserves with their expected win away to bottom side AFC Crossley’s.
Garry West’s men won 6-3 with the help of a hat-trick from Josh Robinson and two from Connor Durkin.
The prolific Gary Ash scored twice as Copley United beat visitors Elland Allstars by the odd goal in seven while Salem thumped hosts Ivy House 6-1 to move into the top half of the table.
Division Two leaders FC Plummet Line extended their winning run to nine but a determined and resolute Sowerby United Reserves pushed them all the way at Ryburn.
The visitors won 6-3, having gone 2-0 down in the opening 30 minutes against hosts who were faster and stronger in the first half.
Plummet got one back when Josh Hunt slotted home following an Ory Goldthorpe free-kick and they dominated after the break.
They quickly drew level through Liam Calvert before Hunt edged Plummet in front following a fine through ball from Goldthorpe.
Right back Tom Howse ran half the length of the pitch and took advantage of a goalkeeping mistake to slot home the fourth.
A Sowerby penalty made it 3-4 but Goldthorpe scored with a fine shot from the edge of the box before a Hunt break led to a simple tap-in for Calvert.
St Columba’s bounced back from the previous week’s defeat to promotion rivals Plummet Line with a 3-2 success away at Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves.
Star led at half time after Aaron Linsky’s cross found the back of the net.
Saints pushed hard for an equaliser and it finally came with 25 minutes left. Frank Odion found George Cook, who lifted the ball over the keeper.
The goal lifted Saints and two Ryan O’Neill penalties in the next 10 minutes looked to have settled the result, only for Linsky to bundle the ball home for his second and set up a tense finish.
Saints stay third, just behind Junction Inn who improved their already impressive goal difference with a 6-0 home success against Midgley United Reserves.
Northowram Reserves avenged an earlier defeat by arch rivals Shelf United Reserves with a 5-3 win on the 3G at Lightcliffe Academy.
Josh Norcliffe scored a hat-trick for the hosts, who went one up early on and almost got a second before the Rams stormed into a 4-1 interval lead.
Shelf tried to hit back in the second half but were unable to bridge the gap, Ollie Spencer getting two of the visitors’ goals.
The three games in Division Three produced 2-1 away wins for Mixenden United, Warley Rangers and Shelf FC Reserves against Stainland United, Brighouse Sports Reserves and Flying Dutchman respectively.
Goals from Chris and Martin Woodhouse took Mixenden into an 11 point lead at the top and their side will fancy their chances of marking their return to the league this season with some silverware.