West Yorkshire League Premier Division: Oxenhope Rec 2 Sherburn 3
OXENHOPE’S six-year tenure in the top flight hangs in the balance following defeat to Sherburn by a fluke goal in the final minute.
At half-time all looked well as Rec had produced their best football for several weeks and were a goal to the good.
Sherburn had started strongly but the home side gradually got the upper hand and Joel Gallagher tested the visitors' keeper with a strong shot.
On the half-hour Oxenhope deservedly took the lead. A Gallagher corner was cleared to the edge of the box and Luke Fleetwood delivered a weighted cross for Dan Scott to produce a stooping header that wrong-footed the keeper.
Young Owen Williamson then went on a jinking run down the left and found Gallagher, who turned his marker and his powerful strike was turned around the post.
Sherburn equalised early in the second half and, using the windy conditions to their advantage, they started to dominate.
Oxenhope regained the advantage mid-way through the second period when Gallagher broke away on a strong run into the penalty area. He was brought down and Chris Day dispatched the resulting penalty.
The visitors continued to press, though. A long ball into the Oxenhope box was headed out, only for a Sherburn striker to rifle a powerful shot back past keeper Nick Hudson.
To add insult to injury, in the final minute Sherburn were awarded a free-kick on the half-way line. Their keeper struck it and, wind-assisted, it sailed unstoppably into the top corner.
Oxenhope now have two final games in the hope of picking up points while relying on Ilkley Town – a point above them but with three games in hand – to slip up in their remaining fixtures.
Rec's last two games could not be much tougher. They have no game this weekend but a week on Saturday they host Huddersfield side Carlton, who hope to clinch the title tomorrow night. Then their final fixture is away at last season’s Premier Division winners and County Cup holders Beeston.
Oxenhope: Hudson, Ward, Scott, Chapman, Shaw, White, Fleetwood, Hardy, Day, Gallagher (Pepper), Williamson.
Alliance Division One: Huddersfield Amateurs Reserves 2 Oxenhope Reserves 0
With no recognised strikers in the team, Oxenhope’s second string paid the price for creating openings but failing to find the target.
Jason McGee, Luke Snowden and Mark McGee all went close as the visitors pressed but Huddersfield were quick on the break and took the lead when their wide player sped down the flank and his cross to the far post was put away.
Oxenhope continued to dominate but were thwarted by a well-organised defence. More chances for Oxenhope were again created in the second half but all went begging.
As the game entered the final minutes the home side delivered the killer blow. Their striker received the ball on the edge of the box, turned his marker and hit the top corner.
On Saturday the reserves travel to reigning champions Beeston Reserves (2.30pm).