A STRONG wind did nothing to stop Hepworth United and Ryburn Valley producing an entertaining Under 17 Division II encounter, which the latter won 4-1.
With just one win from their first four games, the home side haven’t had the best of fortunes so far this season.
Ryburn, on the other hand, were unlikely to prove a pushover as they strive to stay among the leading group.
Playing with the wind at their backs, Hepworth started well but goal chances were hard to come by as Ryburn captain Karl Gledhill, together with fellow defenders Sam Gill, Jonathan Booth and Alex Rhodes, not only barred the way, but set up some excellent counter attacking play which allowed the hard working Joe Casey space on the left to fire in a series of crosses to keep home keeper Guy Norman busy.
Despite the end-to-end action, neither keeper was seriously troubled until Ryburn’s Tom May chased down a lost cause to drill a fierce left-wing cross to the far post, where Sam Gill rose to head into the top corner.
Hepworth continued to enjoy a fair share of possession but the home side were unable to penetrate the visiting defence and Ryburn keeper Lewis Finney ended the first half without having a save to make.
Ryburn found themselves under pressure as the second half got under way and forced a couple of corners, but Hepworth’s inability to carve out clear shooting chances was to prove their downfall.
The Sowerby Bridge side should have scored a second when Jack Gormley pounced on the rebound after keeper Norman blocked an initial shot from Ross Harwood, but the striker fired wide from eight yards out.
But Gormley was to make amends a few minutes later, placing a curling shot beyond the keeper’s reach into the top corner.
Having gone two goals down, United enjoyed their best spell of the game and were rewarded when Danny Mason met a Jordan Scott corner to send a superb near-post header into the roof of the Ryburn net.
Hepworth’s fightback, however, suffered a devastating blow when Angus Jones took offence to a strong Karl Gledhill challenge and referee Fencil Modeste had little choice but to red card the Hepworth midfielder for retaliation.
The rest of the game became damage limitation for Hepworth as Ryburn took full advantage of the extra man and, after a couple of near misses, Ross Harwood put the result beyond doubt with a third goal for the visitors.
Keeper Norman kept Hepworth hopes alive with a couple of tremendous saves, one at the feet of David Carter when the Ryburn striker looked certain to score, and Carter was thwarted again when his far-post header bounced to safety from the bar.
But the Ryburn striker, who had been one of the most dangerous players on the pitch, finally got his name on the scoresheet when he met a Paul Gill left-wing cross to head the ball back across goal into the bottom corner.