Saints must travel to holders

Football - Illingworth St Mary's v Mixenden. Jake Griffin for Illingworth and Billy Rielly for Mixenden.
Football - Illingworth St Mary's v Mixenden. Jake Griffin for Illingworth and Billy Rielly for Mixenden.

Minnows Illingworth St Mary’s will travel to holders Ovenden West Riding in the semi-finals of the Halifax FA Cup on January 17.

It looks a ‘mission impossible’ for the Halifax AFL new boys, who reached the last four with a 5-2 win over visitors Mixenden United at the weekend.

Ovenden crushed Hebden Royd Red Star 11-1 while Warley Rangers earned a last-four date with either Stump Cross or Brighouse Town - whose clash was postponed - by winning 4-2 away to fellow Halifax AFL top-flight side Calder ‘76.

Division Two side Saints, who have several former Halifax Irish Club players in their ranks, were level at 2-2 with 15 minutes left against middle-section side Mixenden.

However, they finished the stronger on the 3G pitch at Trinity Academy.

Mixenden scored the only goal of a tight first half. It came after 20 minutes when Saints ‘keeper Adam Curry saved a free kick but Adam Burke followed up to score.

Saints drew level early in the second half when a long throw from Nicky Bell led to a scramble in the Mixenden box and Declan Rothery slammed the ball home.

A Jake Griffin penalty, after Gareth Gaukroger had been brought down, made it 2-1 but Mixenden were quickly back on terms when Curry cleared to Stuart Sinclair, who lobbed the ball home from 30 yards.

Jake Griffin side-footed past the keeper from 18 yards to give the home side the advantage heading into the closing stages.

Gaukroger then made Saints’ passage to the semi-finals secure with two goals in the last five minutes.

His first was a tap-in from a Joe Griffin cross and for the second he held off two defenders and went through one-on-one with the ‘keeper before slotting home.

Ovenden romped into a 7-0 interval lead against Red Star and the visitors were happy to restrict the damage after that.

It was a strange game for Steve Senior, who is registered for both clubs and turned out on the wing for Ovenden.

He took a knock on the head when winning an early penalty and had to go off for a short while but returned to score a hat-trick against a team he has turned out for twice this season.

Speedy front-runner John Booth bagged five for the Natty Lane side.

Ovenden attacked from the off. Robbie Graham’s penalty was excellently saved by Joe Kidder but Jordan Coduri then sent a second spot kick past the Star custodian.

Excellent build up play involving Carney and Glyn Beale led to a superb finish by Booth, who then added a third.

Carney and Senior made it 5-0 and the efforts of Chris Garbutt were in vain as Booth and Senior stretched the lead.

Booth produced a delightful finish on the hour but Red Star got on the score sheet through Patrick Thomas’s penalty after Matt Devlin had handled.

A Graham 30-yarder and further goals from Senior and Booth finished the rout.

Jordan Trowell climbed off the bench to blast Warley into the semi finals away to Calder 76.

With 10 minutes remaining and the game locked at 2-2, Trowell made a decisive combination.

A doubt all week due to illness, Trowell picked up the ball in midfield, danced around two challenges and let fly from 25 yards into the roof of the net.

His goal followed a similar strike two weeks earlier in another cup tie at Ryburn.

Rangers had raced into a two goal lead inside 10 minutes with lethal strike duo Tom Hiley and Carlton Balmer grabbing a goal apiece after beating the offside trap.

Calder eased themselves into the game and forced Warley into some last ditch defending with Chris Hall to the fore.

However, Calder pulled one back after 30 minutes through Sam Taylor.

Balmer went close with a dipping volley well saved by Warren Clayton, and man of the match Damon Nicholls set up Balmer with a peach of a cross, only for the linesman to rule out his strike.

Calder came out fighting in the second half and levelled on the hour thanks to captain Steve Jones’s superb long-range shot into the top corner.

Hiley hit the bar with a bullet header, Nicholls blazed over a great chance and at the other end Michael Hickinbottom saved a header from point blank range.

With 18 minutes left Calder were reduced to 10 men when Balmer was hauled down as he raced through on goal.

Rangers piled on the pressure and eventually got there noses in front thanks to Trowell’s third goal in five starts.

Balmer rounded off the scoring after exchanging passes with Hiley.