Ashworth gets champs off mark

Actions from Illingworth v Northowram, at Trinity Academy. Pictured is John Ashworth and Jake Baker
Actions from Illingworth v Northowram, at Trinity Academy. Pictured is John Ashworth and Jake Baker

Reigning champions Illingworth St Mary’s got off the mark for the season at the eighth attempt in the Haslem Sheppard Halifax AFL on Saturday.

They were deserved 2-0 winners against Northowram on their own artificial pitch at Trinity Academy and climbed out of the bottom two in the Premier, above beaten pair Calder ‘76 and Hebden Royd Red Star.

Jon Ashworth got both goals, his first coming shortly after Matt Calland side footed against the foot of a post for the visitors.

When play swung to the other end a bouncing ball was not properly cleared and Ashworth took full advantage.

Saints almost doubled their lead when a free kick hit a post and then Ashworth nudged the ball over the advancing James Bunn but saw it bounce a yard wide.

Ash Smee’s volley from outside the area was the closest the Rams came in an opening 45 minutes.

Adam Sloane saved well at Lewis Oldridge’s feet and produced a stunning save from Calland.

Saints doubled their lead against the run of play with 10 minutes left. Ashworth had earlier headed wide of an unguarded net but he made no mistake when Luke Prosser set him up for a tap-in.

Calder lost 2-1 at home to Midgley United, Ryan Jeffries coming on and scoring the winner in the Holmes Park derby.

Midgley, with Tom Hosker returning from injury up front, made the better start.

Calder appeared to be finding their feet when Midgley broke down the flank through Hosker and George Bamford, who pulled the ball back for Tom Rawnsley to score with a half-volley from the edge of the box after 30 minutes.

The home side’s Nathan Dempsey was foiled by Gareth Swain after going through one-on-one but Calder drew level 10 minutes after the break when Midgley threw too many men forward.

Jeffries came on in midfield and his fresh legs helped the visitors on a boggy pitch.

The winner came after 70 minutes when visiting man of the match Greg Spink put the ball back into the box following his corner and Jeffries headed home.

Hebden Royd Red Star lost 4-2 away to Sowerby United, who were boosted by a hat-trick from Rory Thickett.

Red Star went ahead when Lewis Cockroft found space in the Sowerby box to head in.

Sowerby were soon level when Rory Thickett’s determination enabled him to fire home.

Harvey Walsh then put Sowerby in front with a stunning drive.

A second from Thickett looked to have put Sowerby on the way to victory but when Tom Barclay bundled the ball home some strong pressure from Red Star followed.

Sowerby defended well against Patrick Thomas’s long throws and Thickett raced clear from the half way to round the keeper and slot the ball into an empty net.

AFC Crossley’s, the other team in the league without a win before Saturday, also broke their duck with a 4-3 home success against Ryburn United Reserves in Division One.

Two goals apiece from Ben Linsell and David Oakes gave them a shock success in their eighth fixture.

Ryburn slipped to fifth, being overtaken by Brighouse Sports and Copley United who both won on their travels.

Sports were 4-2 victors away to Elland Allstars and Copley won 2-1 away to Holmfield.

Salem won the section’s other game, by 4-2 at home to next to bottom Calder ‘76 Reserves.

Hebden Royd Red Star Reserves lost their first six Division Two matches this season but made it three wins on the bounce with a 5-1 home success against AFC Crossley’s Reserves. Ryan Hird scored twice for them.

The other four games in the section resulted in away wins.

Sowerby Bridge Reserves replaced Junction Inn in second place with a 3-2 success while St Columbas are fourth after grinding ground out a 2-1 victory over Northowram Reserves.

Saints played down the slope in the first half and took the lead when a stray pass fell to Frank Odion. The keeper could only tip his shot onto the underside of the crossbar and into the net.

The lead was doubled with a cracking 30 yard drive from Saints’ man of the match Ben Caldwell.

The second half was more of a slog as a heavy pitch began to take its toll. Northowram battled to the end and were rewarded with a late goal from substitute Tom Abson but Saints held on.

Alex Haggerty took his goal tally for the season to 16 with four in Sowerby United Reserves’ 8-2 thrashing of Shelf United Reserves.

Mixenden United look well placed to win the Division Three title in their first season back after beating hosts Stainland United 4-3 in the top of the table match.

Martin Woodhouse got two of their goals while Will Parkin bagged a hat-trick in Shelf FC Reserves’ 4-2 win at home to Warley Rangers.