Brighouse Town travelled up to Spennymoor on Tuesday night for the second time this season in a very different encounter in the league cup.
Both teams rested a considerable amount of first-team players in order to give their young talent a platform to impress and perform on.
Town included Jimmy Pollard, Kurt Harris, Isaac Baldwin and Harry Stead from their first team – all of who are under 21.
The game, however, was extremely competitive with Brighouse attacking up the significant hill in the first half.
They came under much pressure from the diagonal ball over the full-back that Pollard dealt with aptly, alongside Tim Wallace and Callum Lewis, who won everything in the air.
Town’s best moment early on came when Baldwin was manhandled on his route into the Spennymoor Town box but the referee waved play on with Baldwin’s honesty in staying on his feet possibly his downfall.
Young Ashley Scully caused consistent problems with his direct pace. Town looked the better side in most areas of the pitch, winning their battles and attacking with pace.
This was until Craig Billington appeared to faint on the pitch. It was dealt with rapidly by medical staff from both clubs. The restart was a sombre one in that Town just looked to consolidate until half time, then re-group.
The second half was a slightly different story as Spennymoor came out the quicker team, looking to get the ball in between Town’s centre backs, which caused early problems as they missed a glorious chance to make it 1-0, just before Harry Stead saved well from close range.
Pollard fizzed a shot just wide down at the other end as Town looked to hit them on the counter-attack.
Spennymoor broke through on 73 minutes via an own goal after a corner was whipped into a dangerous area. It was unclear who the ball came off before finding the back of the net.
Town pushed for an equaliser with Elliot Scott linking up well with Baldwin, the latter twisting and turning in the area but he couldn’t dig out the final ball.
With Town pressing everybody forward the counter attack was always a threat. And this brought the decisive goal on 89 minutes as Spennymoor broke and played the percentages in a four-on-two breakaway which was finished emphatically.
Town’s youngsters had done themselves, and the club, proud in difficult conditions with one or two giving manager Paul Quinn food for thought over the coming days.
Although Town headed to the north east to win a football match, the result seemed somewhat irrelevant in comparison to the health of Craig Billington.
It was a relieved team that found out on the bus home that their team-mate had perked up and was in safe hands at Durham Teaching Hospital.