THE U19’s returned to action for the first time since November at the Dual Seal Stadium but were defeated by a solitary strike and good defensive performance by visitors Thackley.
Head Coach Simon Wood’s programme notes alluded to expected rustiness in the performance from his charges, but considering the lengthy hiatus since the side’s last outing, Brighouse started well against the league leaders.
Chances were admittedly few and far between on a frosty evening, especially in the first 20 minutes, but it was Town who had the first real sight on goal.
Ben Grech-Brooksbank in the most advanced forward role struck well having ghosted in from the edge of the area, but Ed Hall in the Thackley goal just about dealt with his shot in fumbling out for a corner.
Adam Simpson ran the target man furrow well for Thackley and was involved as they rallied with an opportunity of their own.
He found Jordan Horsfall well positioned in front of goal but full-back Jack Storrie made a telling intervention to clear.
Grech-Brooksbank stung Hall’s palms with a decent shot from distance, before a crunching tackle involving Brighouse attacker Josh Martin saw the side’s leading scorer having to be carried off.
Fullback Ashton Richardson replaced the stricken front man, meaning a swap to more advanced reaches for Storrie.
The injury has been diagnosed as severe bruising to the left shin.
A moment of confusion in defence just after the reshuffle almost allowed Thackley in for a gilt-edged opportunity but Courtney Smith excellently swept up to prevent an opening goal.
At the other end chances were more numerous, without overly stretching Hall in goal.
Oliver Scott worked a good move with Eli Hey who hit a text-book strike across the keeper but he held the effort, before Hall again denied Grech-Brooksbank, this time one-on-one.
Simpson stung the hands of Brighouse keeper Paul Hagreen but his powerful effort was comfortably held, but with half-time approaching it was the home side enjoying the greater number of efforts on goal.
Storrie made an impressive impact after his more attacking positional shift and fed Grech-Brooksbank who again found Hall in good form saving his shot, before cracking an effort himself at goal with the same outcome.
Brighouse continued to apply the pressure in the early stages of the second period, again without finding the telling breakthrough.
A Storrie near post corner was well shielded by Thomas Rose who teed up Hey but his shot flew over the bar, before Grech-Brooksbank was fouled in the box having got a shot away first and was deemed to have had advantage.
A classic away side counter saw Thackley take the lead with what proved to the only goal of the game.
Captain David Boote side-footed home a very well executed finish from the edge of the penalty area.
Brighouse’s attacking intent was not dented by the setback but a well organised Thackley outfit proved difficult to break down.
A fantastic Brighouse move saw good skill from Grech-Brooksbank create space to feed Storrie. His cross was laid back by Hey and Oliver Scott was hugely unlucky to see his goalbound effort deflected up and over the bar.
Hey was again involved as he played in substitute Connor Ashworth but he scuffed wide and with bodies piling forward the visitors looked more dangerous themselves on the counter.
Brighouse captain and goalkeeper Hagreen made an outstanding save in clawing the ball from the onrushing feet of the Thackley forward, before Horsfall looked to have the whole Town goal to shoot at but sent his shot well wide.
Late pressure from Brighouse, especially from Storrie’s corner deliveries meant that it was Thackley who were delighted to hear the referee’s final whistle.
The victors now sit 10 points ahead of Town in the Western Alliance table but Brighouse have two games in hand.