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Oxenhope claim champion scalp
Bardsey 2 Oxenhope 3
Oxenhope out-fought the reigning league champions to deservedly beat them for the first time in their history.
In an enthralling game played at a high tempo, the visitors had the best of the opening salvos.
On 25 minutes they took the lead when a short-corner routine between James Bailey and Sean Quinlan saw the latter play in Tom Marshall, whose cross found defender Scott Nelson to stab in at the far post.
This stirred Bardsey and keeper Sam Lee had to be at his acrobatic best to keep out a strike that was heading for the top corner.
The visitors had their chances on the break. Defender Tom Emmott surged down the flank past two defenders and beat the keeper but his floating effort went agonisingly wide of the far post.
Ollie Metcalfe, on for the injured Jonathan Clewes, played in James Bailey but his strike was smothered by the keeper.
After the break Bardsey laid siege to the Oxenhope goal and were rewarded when they forced home in a goal-line skirmish.
They scented victory but Oxenhope’s back line, inc-luding reserve team defenders Dayne Ward and Emm-ott, were up to the task.
And on 75 minutes the Worth Valley side went ahead when Marshall went past his marker and drew the keeper before slotting home.
Striker Michael Garnett then had a glorious opportunity to settle the game when man of the match Marshall floated the ball across the box but the big striker unbelievably headed wide with an open goal in front of him.
However, he was still to have the last word.
Back came Bardsey when a corner from the left saw the ball eventually falling to one of their players at the back stick.
With Oxenhope’s defence calling in vain for offside, he stroked the ball home. The visitors could have settled for the draw but instead they carried the greater threat.
With the clock running down, a weighted pass from Metcalfe to Marshall saw him skip past his man before squaring to Dan Moriarty. He delivered the ball to Garnett, who made up for his previous miss by chesting the ball down and blasting in the winner.
Paul Brearey’s side had a nervous last few minutes but held out for a memorable win.
Oxenhope will now need to carry their upturn in form over the last three matches into their first-round tie at Keighley Cup holders Steeton on Saturday (2pm).
Oxenhope: Lee, Emmott, McNicol, Nelson, Ward, White, Clewes, Quinlan, Garnett, Bailey, Marshall subs Moriarty, Metcalfe, Ives, Day.
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