BRIGHOUSE started their pre-season under new manager Mick Couzens with both an eye catching victory and solid all round performance against Evo-Stik Division One North newcomers AFC Farsley at the Dual Seal Stadium.
The new man at the helm could not have asked for a better start, as Ryan Brook marked his return to the club with a stunning left foot strike into the corner of Farsley keeper Tom Morgan’s net with just three minutes on the clock to give Town the lead.
Farsley – winners of the NCEL Premier Division last season showed their class at times and equalised on 10 minutes through former Huddersfield Town man Lewis Nightingale.
The left winger proved effective taking up central positions off his flank and found space to crack home from the edge of the area to restore parity.
In an entertaining match, Danny Hull stood out for Town with a typically energetic display in central midfield alongside Brook – and it was a burst towards the Farsley goal that allowed Wayne Crossley to centre the ball just too high for the onrushing Shane Hamilton.
The visitors took the lead for the first time on 19 minutes. A ball slotted through down the left found Mark Betts, who made no mistake in putting the Evo-stik One side ahead.
The response from Brighouse was encouraging, as they pressed the visitors in search of an equaliser.
Jacob Lever was proving a handful at times down the left flank – and he cut inside his marker only to find his angle too acute allowing the Farsley keeper to smother his effort.
Approaching the half–hour mark and the pressure did pay off however – with Lever accurately stroking the ball past Morgan after good work from new Town front man Hamilton who had cut the ball back well.
Town went on to enjoy their best spell of the match leading up to the interval, forcing back their opponents effectively at times.
Hull again surged from midfield and struck narrowly past the post, before Crossley looked to have a decent penalty shout turned down after being bundled over in the area.
At the other end Dominic Krief forced a good tip over from Town keeper Ben Imeson – and Betts was just too high with his effort from the ensuing corner.
The lead at the interval was stolen by Town however, as the lively Craig Thomson fired home at the second attempt after being found at the back post by Matty Parker.
The first effort was blocked by the keeper – but fell straight back to Thomson who put too much power on his second effort, which squirmed over the line – well spotted by the referee’s assistant.
The second half saw changes by both teams, with Farsley replacing 10 players and introducing the likes of experienced club favourite Simeon Bambrook and former Bradford and Halifax striker Gareth Grant.
The changes certainly seemed to strengthen the visitors, which gave the new Town boss an opportunity to see how well his side performed under pressure as well as when more dominant during spells of the first half.
Again the response was good.
Joe Swallow made a well-timed last gasp challenge on Grant as he was about to shoot on goal from close range, before both Damian Gomersall and Parker were also called into action as Town’s impressive work ethic helped to shut Farsley out.
With opportunities more on the counter, Town still gave the visitors a few scares as the half progressed.
Gomersall saw a header at goal from a Woofenden corner held, before Grant fed Ryan Watson who struck just wide for Farsley.
The breakthrough did come as the visitors looked to have at least rescued a draw following a fantastic through ball from midfield man Andy Cooper.
He split the Town defence and Dave Stead made no mistake with the finish to tie the match.
The work ethic continued to shine for Brighouse, with Brook and Hull very busy in midfield, whilst the wide men of Woofenden and Dale Feather were coming back to help full-backs Crossley and Chris Wdowczyk as Farsley threatened.
It was a move made in Town’s Academy that helped snatch a late winner.
The ball was worked well down the right flank involving Antony Brown and Hull, who fed another U19’s player Alex O’Keefe.
He shielded the ball well looking to get a shot at goal but was felled in the area allowing Wayne Crossley to confidently smash home a winner from the penalty spot with just three minutes remaining.
Town are next in action on Saturday at home against AFC Emley (3pm), before facing Silsden on Wednesday night (7.45pm) and Bradford Park Avenue the following Saturday (3pm).
If the entertainment continues as in the first friendly match it should be well worth getting down to the Dual Seal Stadium to check out the pre-season progress.