LINTHWAITE Under 16s remain on course for a tough League and Cup double after beating Hebden Bridge 4-1 in their first-round Cup encounter at Royds Hall School.

Hebden Bridge are well placed for promotion to Division I while Linthwaite are chasing a fourth successive and, potentially, most difficult league title.

Having secured titles and promotion at Under 13, 14 and 15, the Colne Valley side are now well placed for a tilt at the Under 16 championship, but they knew the visit of Hebden Bridge would be tricky.

From the start, the visitors gave as much as they got and Linthwaite were given an early warning when a Hebden Bridge shot from a corner was blocked and cleared.

Linthwaite were quick to respond as Simeon John picked out Zak Nash, but the striker’s effort flew over the bar.

Back to the other end and Fraser Holt went close for Hebden Bridge with a similar shot just over.

The deadlock was finally and deservedly broken in Linthwaite’s favour after 10 minutes by Jack Cooper who, having seen his corner kick cleared to the left edge of the penalty area, ran on to fire a tremendous shot into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Linthwaite’s lead was short lived, however, as almost from the re-start, Liam Hygate fired home an equaliser.

With both sides determined to get the upper hand there was no shortage of action, but it took a little bit of luck for Linthwaite to regain the lead.

Elliot Ashmore’s powerful shot from the edge of the area looked well covered by Matthew Senior, but he was unable to hold the muddy ball which had enough spin to cross the line before the keeper could react. The goal inspired a period of Linthwaite pressure and they increased their lead again just before the break when Hebden Bridge allowed Beaumont space on the edge of the area to give the home side a two-goal cushion at 3-1.

The visitors continued their search for goals in the second half but Fraser Harrison, Zak Nash and inspirational captain Nathan Hall were in no mood to give up their lead, forcing Hebden Bridge into shooting from long range. And when a corner fell to the feet of Conner Beaumont, the striker ensured Linthwaite’s victory from close range.

While Linthwaite move into the second round, Hebden Bridge can concentrate on gaining promotion – but they now know what will be required to play in the top division.