OLD Boys came away from hilly Baildon after much effort and skilful play with a victory.
Playing against the elements in the first half, Old Boys kept a tight compact formation, not allowing their lower league opponents time and space on the ball and winning the possession battle to set up their pacy counter attacks.
The majestic ball play of man of the match James Fletcher, combined with the ability of playmakers Jimmy Cummings and Damien Place in midfield to get the ball down quickly, acted as a platform for Peter Kuleczko and Calvin Lee to raid down the flanks and boded well for the side from the opening whistle.
Chances were created and shots from Cummings and Fletcher were saved by the Baildon keeper in the first few minutes of the match.
Space was plentiful on the wings encouraging the attacking play of fullbacks Marko O’Boyle and Luke Johnson and it was a mazy dribble by Johnson that lead to the first goal.
After a neat one-two with Lee, Johnson burst into the opponent’s penalty area only to be brought down by a clumsy tackle from the Baildon centre back.
Captain Fletcher took control of the situation, put the ball down on the penalty spot and cleverly placed the resulting shot low down to the left hand side of the keeper.
The blustery wind was causing problems for the Brighouse defence but, marshalled by the centre back pairing of Reece Bray and Lee Williams, chances on the Old Boys’ goal were few and far between.
A couple of set pieces were driven into the heart of the Brighouse defence but these were competently handled by Jason Hibbert in the away team goal.
Just before half-time Lee had to be replaced, after pulling up with a hamstring injury, by the cultured Cockney Adam Williams on the left.
A goal up at half-time, turning round with the wind on their backs, the omens looked good for the Old Boys but, after dominating most of the possession, they were caught by a surprise counter-attack.
It was a swerving dipping shot from the edge of the area which eluded the diving Hibbert to bring the scores level.
Somewhat stunned by this Old Boys responded well and drove forward, spurred on by the exact passing game of Place, Fletcher and Cummings and raided deep into the Baildon half.
Fletcher was unlucky when, turning quickly, he unleashed a powerful dipping shot from 40 yards out which beat the Baildon keeper and crashed against the bar.
Chances were coming but not taken. Williams was unfortunate when a couple of clever chips just went wide and over the bar.
Catching Baildon on the break Cummings was unlucky when a powerful well placed shot rebounded off the post and out for a goal kick.
Martin Newham and Kuleckzko were causing havoc running at the Baildon defence and from one pacy burst Kuleczko was brought down for a penalty.
Fletcher repeated his successful kick of the first half, this time lashing the ball into high right hand side of the home team net.
Running his heart out for the team the skilful Newham was replaced by Joe Nalson, fresh legs spurring Brighouse on for further gains.
But, none came and, for a worrying last five minutes it needed all the experienced play of O’Boyle, Williams, Bray, Johnson, backed up by the confident handling of Hibbert to keep Baildon at bay until the final whistle.
It was a hard fought for victory in conditions which did not naturally suit Old Boys’ style of play, but it was a valuable three points in their bid for promotion.