Table toppers Ryburn United needed a late penalty to overcome lowly Northowram 3-2 and stay firmly on course for the Halifax AFL title.
They came up against a committed Rams side at Northowram Rec and were grateful to Joe Swallow’s successful spot kick to see them home.
The opening 30 minutes were evenly contested and scrappy. After an excellent double save by James Bunn, Ryburn took the lead after 34 minutes when Ashton Richardson headed home from a corner.
The Rams claimed a penalty after Matt Calland was bundled over while Chris Dunne made a vital interception at the other end.
Ryburn had the better of the latter stages of the half and Christian Silkstone’s left foot curling shot just cleared the angle of post and crossbar while Lewis Oldridge went close for Northowram.
Ryburn almost scored seconds after the restart when a centre skimmed the bar but the Rams, playing up the slope, drew level via Calland’s angled shot.
Richardson’s long throws caused problems but there was little to choose between the teams going into the final 20 minutes.
After a spell of Ryburn pressure the ball broke to Oldridge, who hammered an unstoppable shot into the top corner on 77 minutes
Brad Waddington’s flick made it 2-2 within a minute and Archie Griffiths’ foul gave Swallow a chance to finish emphatically.
Shelf United kept up their pursuit of the leaders with a 5-2 success away to Illingworth SM but manager John Lister was not impressed.
“We were lazy and lethargic against depleted opponents,” he said. “I could have been because we didn’t play last week but if we play that way against Shelf FC on Saturday they will do us.”
Scoring in the first minute proved a blessing in disguise, Billy Grogan turning and placing the ball in the bottom corner.
Jacob Green tried to dribble out of defence and was robbed as Luke Prosser made it 1-1. James Goodwin then passed the ball beyond his advancing keeper with a home player nowhere to be seen as Saints went 2-1 up.
Grogan got his second at the back post from Danny Cook’s good cross to make it 2-2 but it wasn’t until the final quartet that Shelf got on top with three goals in quick succession.
A Saints player turned a cross into his own net; James Waggett scored with a back post header; and Luke O’Brien produced a rare moment of quality with a long-range strike into the top corner.
Sowerby Bridge were much more determined than Sowerby United and blew away their hosts 5-0.
A superb 25 yard strike from Jordan Bedford in the first minute set them on their way and Luke Maguire found the net with another top finish.
Bedford helped himself to another and Damian Watkins and Chris Stanton completed the scoring.
It could have been more but for some fine saves from stand-in keeper Garry Boyd.
Calder ‘76 and Greetland fought out a 1-1 draw at Luddenden Foot, the visitors being pegged back after Adrian Ford had given them an interval lead.
Shelf FC played only their second league match of 2018 in a 4-1 win over Hebden Royd Red Star at Westwood Park.
Matty Hartley scored twice and Andy Hawker and Alex O’Keefe were also on target for the hosts with Dan Pugh getting Star’s goal.