IN-FORM Kirkby Malzeard made it 14 league matches without defeat when a hard-fought 2-0 premier division victory at Bramhope last Saturday consolidated their second place.

The visitors went ahead ten minutes into the second half when Paul Abbott headed in Andy Thompson's left-wing cross and ten minutes later Paul Pollard appeared to have wrapped up the points with a neat finish from Martin Foyle's long ball.

But a niggly match boiled over soon after as several players from both teams were involved in an altercation which resulted in Pollard being shown a red card.

Having only just got himself back in the side, it could not have come at a worse time for the big striker, who will now be facing a long ban.

The ten men came under a lot of pressure in the closing stages, but they worked hard to keep the home side out and clinch their first win on this ground for five years.

Elsewhere, Northallerton Town Reserves' match with Harlow Hill was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Division one leaders Dalton Athletic had a resounding 5-0 home victory over struggling Menston Rangers. Richard Balderston was the hero as he struck four times to take his total for the season to 19.

He opened the scoring after only two minutes before Matthew Till added a second eight minutes later. Balderston then slotted home his second in the 23rd minute after Gareth Barber's effort had come back off the post and he completed his hat-trick before half-time with a cool left-foot finish.

With the points wrapped up, Dalton eased off in the second half. But Balderston had not quite finished and he headed home his fourth to make 5-0 in the 58th minute.

Dalton could even afford the luxury of a penalty miss. Gary Foster was brought down in the box and got up to take the spot kick himself, but the Menston keeper produced a fine save to deny him.

With Thirsk Falcons Reserves going down to a shock 3-0 defeat at Spa Athletic Reserves, the win moved Dalton six points clear at the top, although the chasing pack do all have games in hand.

One of those teams are Horsforth St Margaret's Reserves and they kept in touch with a 3-1 win at Kirkby Malzeard Reserves. The visitors took the lead after only five minutes, but Kirkby fought back and were level by half-time with a great goal by Mark Marsden. But Horsforth showed their class in the second half and wrapped up the points with goals in the 48th and 81st minutes to move up to fourth.

At the other end of the table Masham eased their relegation worries with a hard-fought 1-0 home victory over fellow strugglers Harold Styans.

Both teams went into the match only three points off the bottom, so neither side could really afford to lose. The home side dominated the first half, but they only had Dougie Arnold's 30th-minute goal to show for their efforts.

Styans came back at them after the break, but the central defensive partnership of Joe Kitchen and Mark Skeet, with a combined age of 77, held firm to ensure a vital three points for Masham.

In division two, the performance of the day saw Boroughbridge A travel to Empress and come away with a fine 3-1 victory.

They got the perfect start when Chris Chapman headed in at the near post after just seven minutes, but it was not until the second half that they really started to dominate.

Manager Bob Sinclair switched to a 4-5-1 formation and, with young Brazilian debutant Axel Kuango causing the home side all sorts of problems, they got a second in the 48th minute. Inevitably it was Kuango who got it, running on to Jason Metcalfe's through ball before rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net.

Although Empress did pull a goal back after an hour, the visitors got a deserved third with 15 minutes left. Again Kuango was at the heart of it with a great run and cross down the right. The ball fell invitingly for substitute Richie Renton and he smashed it home from 20 yards to clinch the points which lift Boroughbridge up to sixth place.

Elsewhere, Ripon Red Arrows made it five matches unbeaten as they came from behind to beat visitors Hampsthwaite United 3-1.

The Arrows found themselves a goal down after 16 minutes, but they were much improved in the second half. They equalised in the 52nd minute when Dave Cooper's shot was pushed out by the keeper and Shaun Puttock was on hand to tap in the rebound.

Puttock then put Arrows ahead on the hour, lifting the ball over the advancing keeper for a fine goal, but it was only a great goal-line clearance from Victor Todd in the 75th minute which kept them in front.

That proved a vital stop because Arrows broke out just three minutes later and Matthew Clarke made the points safe with a well-taken third.

In division three, Kirkby Malzeard A travelled to Otley Town B for their first game in three weeks, but suffered a 3-0 defeat.

It might have been different had Mike McCann not missed an open goal early on or if James Durken's effort had not been harshly ruled out for offside.

However, the home side made the most of their luck and went in at the break 2-0 up. Kirkby worked hard in the second half, but it could have been worse for them had emergency keeper Chris Kirby not saved a penalty in the 46th minute.

Otley made sure of the points in the 85th minute with a third goal which was a little harsh on the visitors, for whom Liam Killeen was man of the match.