Disappointment as tormentor Long puts youngsters out

Brighouse Town's Under-18s squad with assistant coach Rick Addy, right, and Phil Baker to his left
Brighouse Town's Under-18s squad with assistant coach Rick Addy, right, and Phil Baker to his left

BRIGHOUSE’S FA Youth Cup run ended in Kidderminster but not without first letting the Worcestershire side know all about the tenacity of Simon Wood’s Academy side, writes Andy Dawson.

Town started the match on the front foot with Thomas Rose standing out in midfield with some crunching early tackles and interceptions.

Dale Feather was looking Brighouse’s most potent attacking threat during the early dominance and he centred a couple of crosses that could so easily have ended up in the back of the net. Central front man Eli Hey was inches away from getting a telling touch on both occasions.

The home side started to grow into the match after barely being allowed to foray into the Town half in the first 15 minutes.

Rob Wadsworth had to be on his toes at right back for Town throughout the match, doing so admirably against Kidderminster’s strongest outlet down the left flank.

Conner Tuff made a vital block to deny Richaee Derby in the home side’s first opportunity of note, before a sweeping Connor Ashworth ball almost put Hey through.

Beyond the 20 minute mark the home Blue Square Premier side started to turn the screw a little with Ollie Long on the left always the catalyst of their best work.

The breakthrough came on 27 minutes, and Long opened the scoring. His first shot from close range was bravely cleared off the line by Curtis Hammond, but he got a second chance and put his side ahead through a crowded box.

Wadsworth made an impressive timely block on the line from a Derby free kick, while stinging long range efforts were only just wayward.

With a minute of the first half left, Paul Hurrell struck the post with a powerful shot and Long was in the right place to snap up the rebound.

It could have got worse in injury time as Harriers had two more chances to race into a commanding lead.

The second half started in the worse possible fashion for Brighouse. Ashley Checketts delivered a quality ball in from the flank and Hurrell could not miss from deep inside the Town penalty area as he made it 3-0.

Town’s players stuck to their task despite the match becoming fragmented by the referee’s whistle.

A defence splitting pass from Connor Ashworth found Dale Feather but his curling effort whipped just the wrong side of the post.

On 70 minutes Ben Grech-Brooksbank fired over from distance but at the other end Long burst into the area and was tripped. He then claimed a hat-trick from the spot.

Brighouse then played arguably, considering the scoreline and circumstances, their best 20 minutes of the cup run.

In the 77th minute Grech-Brooksbank fed Josh Martin in the area and he smashed home to keep up his record of having scored in every round of the competition.

Many sides would have considered this a deserved consolation but not this side. Martin’s tenacity in the six yard box saw his pass find Hey and with 10 minutes remaining the front man deservedly got his goal to make it 4-2.

With men pushed forward it was now much more end-to-end and Paul Hagreen saved brilliantly from Long, but the majority of action was very much at the other end as the nerves in the Kiddie team started to show.

Feather cracked a shot just wide, before forcing a very good point blank save from Goddard the rebound fell to Hey but a determined block in defence again thwarted Town’s comeback.

The last chance of the match fell to substitute Matthew Scholefield. Oliver Scott produced a typically telling ball on to his head, but the home side’s keeper again made a great save to secure his side a 4-2 victory and a Round Two visit of Carlisle United.

The young side have represented the club admirably throughout the cup run and deservedly took their applause on leaving the pitch.