WITH four players out and a seemingly difficult away fixture at Rothwell, Brighouse Old Boys had to be at their best to continue their recent winning run.
Coming in were Andy Burton, central midfield, Peter Kuleczko on the right flank, Steve Ashford up front and Matty Roy on the left.
Staying with the 4-5-1 system that has steered them to their recent victories Old Boys took the game to Rothwell and playing their neat passing game through the midfield they dominated possession.
Old Boys made the best possible start with an early goal forged from the heart of midfield, Burton to Jimmy Cummings, Cumming’s setting Roy up on the left leaving the left winger running towards goal.
Clever play by Ashford dragged the defence out of the way and left Roy with a single defender to beat which he did before adroitly placing the ball past the keeper.
Rothwell had two prominent forwards, good in the air and with known shooting abilities, and the Old Boys’ central defenders, man of the match Ian Brock and Andy Hall stemming the tide along with excellent fullbacks Luke Johnson and Joe Nelson which meant keeper Jason Hibbert did not have many saves to make.
Old Boys went close to doubling their lead at the break when another run by Roy on the left produced a low cross which found Ashford almost standing on the line, however the ball was just behind him and his deflection looped over the bar.
Rothwell came out with out all guns blazing and long shots rained in at the Brighouse goal, all expertly handled by Hibbert. Pushing forward Rothwell were leaving gaps at the back and a couple of times Cumming’s broke free of the Rothwell defence and was unlucky not to increase the lead as his efforts just went wide.
Old Boys did eventually double their lead when a corner from the right was glanced on by Fletcher at the front post. Mike Pearson had just come on as a substitute for the tiring Kuleczko after almost a year out of the game and was in the right place to sidefoot the ball home.
Roy then had to come off to be replaced by centreback Lee Williams who went up front, the tireless Ashford dropping back to the left hand side of midfield.
Brighouse were looking good but Rothwell’s pressure finally paid off when a cross from the right hit the arm of Andy Hall in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot and Hibbert was easily beaten by the resulting powerful shot from the Rothwell forward. However, it was too little too late for the home side.
Brighouse Old Boys 2
West Yorkshire League Premier Division
AGAINST second in the table Bardsey, the Old Boys turned in another determined performance but once again failure to take their chances was their downfall as they suffered a third consecutive defeat.
The game began brightly with both sides moving the ball around well and it was the visitors who had the first chance when their winger broke through but keeper Gareth Betts was equal to the task.
The home side responded and after a flowing move Mitch Hirst’s cross found Tom Collins but his powerful header went over; the same player had another opportunity when he broke free but the visiting ‘keeper was quick off his line to save at his feet.
There was plenty of good football from both sides and wingers Hirst and Dan Leahy were always probing down the flanks supported by fullbacks Gary Nicholson and Ben Oakland who were always looking to join the attacks.
However, it was Bardsey who grabbed the lead after 30 minutes after a period of pressure from the Old Boys. A long ball out of defence caught the home back four square and the visiting centre forward went through to score.
Old Boys should have equalised straightaway. After a smart move the ball came to Martin Newham only a couple of yards out but he wasn’t able to force the ball over the line.
Then, just before half time, Bardsey doubled their advantage in controversial circumstances when a ball over the top was picked up by the visiting forward who was coming back from an offside position. However, to both teams’ surprise the referee waved play on and Old Boys were 2-0 down at half time.
The Old Boys had to make a change with Oakland suffering a knee injury, Dan Leahy dropped to fullback and veteran Glen Lee joined the fray.
Brighouse started the second half with real intent and Adam Williams and Mike Wadsworth were bossing the midfield and they really took the game to the visitors.
Once again they had chances but a combination of wayward finishing and excellent goalkeeping prevented them from scoring. Bardsey were always looking for the counter attack but with Vaughan Wagstaffe and Graeme Tait dominating at the back they were not making any headway.
With 25 minutes remaining Brighouse got their reward when Lee picked up the ball in midfield. He played a neat pass to Williams who then played a one- two with sub Alex Tait before firing the ball powerfully into the net.
This sparked a period of sustained pressure with the visitors defending in numbers but despite Old Boys finishing well on top they were unable to get anything out of the game.
Best for Old Boys were Williams, Hirst and Wagstaffe.
Brighouse Old Boys Res 1
Bardsey Res 2
West Yorkshire Alliance Division One
For the third week in succession Brighouse Old Boys secured all three points, despite another poor performance.
Brighouse have now won five out of their opening six games of the season, however in each of their last two outings they have only just done enough to get over the line.
Unlike previous weeks, Brighouse were second best in the opening period and it was only down to poor finishing from a lively Thornhill side that kept the hosts level.
The Old Boys finally began to spread the ball about with Paul Taylor and Warren Phillips working together nicely to set Richard Rothwell up for the opener, which saw the in-form striker bundle the ball under the advancing keeper.
Brighouse then took a grip on the game and should have been two goals clear after a sumptuous through ball from Taylor sent Wayne Cummins clear. However, the marauding winger failed to test the keeper with the goal at his mercy.
The second half saw the introduction of veteran striker Jamie Beavers who quickly made his mark, holding up the ball and bringing the midfield into the game. And with 25 minutes to go, the game was put beyond Thornhill’s reach when another excellent passage of play form Taylor saw his rebounded shot fall to Beavers, who coolly slotted home form three yards.
Brighouse continued to create chances and were denied a third when Paul Fitzjohn’s diving header was arguably ruled out for offside, with Bradley Rufus deemed to be interfering with play.
Manager Rod Moore, commented “We’re managing to pick up the points at the moment despite playing ugly. We’re almost there and when things click I think someone will be on the wrong side of a right hammering.”
Best for Brighouse were Sam Davidson, Ben Briggs and Paul Taylor. Competition for places will be tough next week with the return of Captain Luke McNamarra, Andy Taylor and brothers Leighton and Jason Armstrong.
The Old Boys will be looking to open up a lead on their rivals next week when they travel to Huddersfield United.
Brighouse Old Boys 2
Thornhill United 0
Huddersfield District AFL Division Four