TITLE-CHASING Hepworth United arrived at Dewsbury Rangers on a sunny morning for an important league meeting with last year’s Under 13 champions.
And it proved a contest where the woodwork played a major part!
Having lost several players to professional clubs since last season, Dewsbury are in the process of re-building and it showed in their disjointed first-half performance.
Hepworth, on the other hand, looked sharper from the start and took the lead after five minutes when Harrison found the back of the net.
Hepworth continued to dominate and were unlucky not to double their advantage 10 minutes later but Daniel Lockwood’s shot from the edge of the area flew over the crossbar.
The home defence was taking a heavy battering but Corey Joseph, Declan O’Regan and Tom Costello weathered the storm, and with the busy Shahid Patel and Matthew Thorpe now beginning to find space in midfield, Rangers were back level on the half hour when the referee awarded a penalty from which Jamil Sair scored the equaliser.
But Dewsbury’s joy was shortlived as they were unable to clear a Daniel Lockwood right wing cross and Adam Lockwood stabbed home the loose ball no more than 2 minutes later.
Josh Sedgewick was unlucky not to increase the visitors’ lead when his 20-yard shot rebounded from the foot of both goalposts before being cleared to safety.
But Hepworth’s dominance was rewarded when a corner was headed down for Adam Lockwood to score from close range.
Dewsbury almost pulled one back on the stroke of half-time when Shahid Patel found the ever-dangerous Jamil Sair but the forwards shot came back off the post.
Rangers finally got their act together in the second half and Sair and Corey Joseph were soon back in action but both had shots saved by keeper Conor O’Brien.
Despite their improvement, Dewsbury were unable to make any headway as Marcus Wade, Josh Holberry and Josh Nicholls barred the way to goal and the result was virtually settled in Hepworth’s favour when Adam Lockwood completed his hat trick to give United a three-goal lead.
And the woodwork was to play its part yet again when Jamil Sair turned a corner past Conor O’Brien only to see his effort cleared off the line after it had hit both posts.
Dominic Bennett fired over the Dewsbury crossbar from a Callum Bower cross before a Josh Holberry free-kick flew over keeper Joe Haley, only to bounce of the far post.
But Adam Lockwood was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net with an hour played.
The result leaves Hepworth’s title challenge in good shape as they now sit in third place, six points behind the leaders with two games in hand.
Dewsbury are still in the chase but they need to find some consistency.