Woolford and Munt fire Birkenshaw to Gate final

Commercial 0 Birkenshaw Reserves 2 TWO second-half strikes saw Birkenshaw Reserves triumph in this Gate Challenge Cup semi-final at Overthorpe Park.

Both sides struggled to master the driving wind and rain but despite the conditions there were plenty of chances.

After an hour both teams had a man sent off for violent conduct, as Commercial Heckmondwike's Chris Whitley and Birkenshaw's Mark Dransfield scuffled on the floor following a tackle.

Birkenshaw sealed their place in the final late on as Darren Munt fired home to add to Paul Woolford's 57th minute strike which gave his side the lead.

After Commercial's Matt Pezcick saw an early strike held by goalkeeper Neil Boothroyd, Birkenshaw replied as Paul Woolford sent Craig Hainsworth away down the right and from his low cross Mike Maxim fired just wide at the near post.

Maxim spurned another good chance, firing wide when clear, while Boothrouyd produced a fine save to tip a curling free-kick from Commercial's Phil Braham round a post.

Gary Stephenson turned in a lively display and he went close for Commercial with a 30-yard dipping shot which Boothroyd tipped over the crossbar.

Birkenshaw replied as Simon Clueley saw a shot deflected behind following a corner from Smith, before Maxim latched onto a sliced clearance but his shot across goal beat goalkeeper Steve Rossiter but rolled just wide of the right post.

Rossiter made a brave save under pressure from Woolford after Smith's neat flick while Commercial went close late in the first half. Sean Tearne saw a shot well held by Boothroyd before good work on the left from hard-working Craig Hall found Stephenson in the area but a fine tackle from Ricky Horrobin denied him a shot at goal.

After the break Johnny Knowles fired over after a scramble in the Birkenshaw area saw two shots blocked before Birkenshaw, with the advantage of slope and wind, turned the screw.

Horrobin's curling free-kick was tipped over by Rossiter before Richard Whitehead's header from a Smith corner was hacked off the line by Daniel Hart.

Whitehead then beat two men on a fine run but dragged his shot wide before Birkenshaw broke the deadlock in the 57th minute. Woolford showed strength on the edge of the area before turning and firing a right foot shot which nestled in the bottom left corner.

Whitley's tackle on Dransfield led to the pair scuffling on the ground and both were sent off for violent conduct before Birkenshaw had a lucky escape when Kane Baker and Boothroyd collided on the edge of the area but the goalkeeper was able to regather the ball before Hall could pounce.

Hall turned a Tearne corner just wide of the target as the tie reached the final 10 minutes before Rossiter produced a smart save from Smith after good work by Maxim.

Birkenshaw sealed their place in the final six minutes from time when Maxim's cross from the left found Darren Munt unmarked eight yards out and he lashed the ball home as Commercial appealed in vain for offside.

The second Gate Cup semi-final, between Batley Irish Nash and Woodman Batley Carr Reserves, at Centenary Square, Thornhill Lees is on March 28. The final is at Beck Lane on April 11.

Commercial Heckmondwike: Rossiter, Hart, Kennedy (Warner 75min), Robbins, Braham, Pezcick, Stephenson (Hepworth 75min), Tearne, Knowles (Berry 89min), Hall, Whitley. Subs not used: Crowther, Paziuk, Winpenny.

Birkenshaw Reserves: Boothroyd, Clueley, Horrobin, Baker, McVeigh, McCallum, Hainsworth (Whitehead 45min), Dransfield, Maxim (Phillips 84min), Woolford (Munt 64min), Smith. Subs not used: Metcalfe, Schewtschuck, Thompson.

Referee: Andy Bennett.