BATTYEFORD produced one of the most remarkable comebacks of the season to beat Almondbury Lions in extra-time in the RCD Under 16 Cup.
With 30 minutes to go, Battyeford were 4-0 down in the fourth round tie and looking massive outsiders for a place in the semi-finals.
First Division Battyeford, in fact, appeared down and out when Tom Stead gave Almondbury that four-goal advantage just after the interval.
And there was little doubt in the minds of supporters on both sides that the result was a foregone conclusion.
But the Battyeford team had other ideas and when Rhys James struck Battyeford’s first, with just under half an hour to go, it sparked one of the most amazing comebacks of the season.
As Second Division leaders Almondbury had already disposed of First Division Dalton Dynamoes in the previous round, there was little to suggest what was to come when Sam Taylor’s looping volley dipped under the Battyeford bar to put the home side 1-0 up.
They were even more in control when Tom Brook sent in a corner to the far post five minutes later and Damaris Mills happily headed home for a two-goal cushion.
Keith Msimanga, Jack Baldwin, Tom Gledhill and the non-stop Louis Bailey worked hard to keep Battyeford in the game, but the Mirfield side lacked any spark and Almondbury keeper Sam Pearson was a virtual spectator for most of the first half.
Mills almost increased the Lions’ lead after half an hour but the excellent defender saw his goalbound shot cleared off the line by Oliver Myzak.
The Lions were not to be denied, however, and a close-range strike from Rob Wadsworth gave Almondbury a comfortable 3-0 lead to take into half time.
There was little to suggest the pattern of the game might change when, within minutes of the re-start, Wadsworth and Ben Hall combined on the left to set up Brook, whose far-post cross was headed inches over by Mills.
And the home side didn’t have to wait long before increasing their lead when Stead fired home a fourth from 10 yards.
At this point it would have taken a brave man to predict anything but a home victory and even Battyeford might have given up the chase had Brook’s 15-yard shot found the net instead of flying just wide on the hour mark.
But, the resulting kick from keeper Aaron Broadley was about to change everything. Louis Bailey’s excellent control allowed him to feed James who manufactured a yard of space to fire Battyeford’s first goal from 12 yards.
With Johnny Austwick, Conor Rowlands and Myzak now looking comfortable in defence, the visitors pushed everyone else into attack and the pressure finally paid off when a defence-splitting chip allowed Troy Lewis time to turn and side foot past keeper Pearson.
The goal gave Battyeford a belief that had been non-existent for most of the game and Almondbury were struggling to cope, but although Louis Bailey, Tom Gledhill, Charlie Mitchell and Ricardo Ianzito pressed hard for a third goal, the chance seemed to have slipped by when James was unable to get high enough to head down a Brook cross.
No doubt the heavy pitch was taking a toll on tired defenders and when Lewis found himself 12 yards from goal, the unmarked Battyeford striker placed a perfect shot beyond Pearson’s reach to leave them 4-3 down and the game on a knife edge.
And the visitors fightback was complete when a throw-in found its way to Austwick who struck the equaliser from eight yards in the last minute of normal time.
The deciding goal arrived in the second period of extra-time when, although keeper Pearson got a foot to the ball, he was only able to divert Jack Baldwin’s powerful drive into his own net.
Both sides received a well-deserved round of applause for a top-class and enthralling display of football.
Had the home side held out for one more minute in normal time they would have been the semi-finalists but, thanks to a late, late equaliser and then a winner, it is now Battyeford who go forward to face Penistone, who were 6-0 winners at Dewsbury Rangers.