Town opened up their pre-season campaign with a great workout against FC Halifax Town, who brought two sets of 11 players for new management team Neil Aspin and Trevor Storton to look over their new signings. There was no doubt that from the first whistle Brighouse were going to be under the cosh as former Bury, Hyde Utd and Harrogate Town striker, James Dean led the line, supported by the likes of Eddie Grayâ€™s son Nicky and quality midfielder Tom Baker, Halifaxâ€™s player of the season last year.
Halifax came out of the traps quickly, their quality on and off the ball showing immediately and went ahead as early as the 5th minute with a strike from Gray, followed 10 mins later by another finish from Dean. Brighouse did settle down after 15 mins, with new signing Simon Wood and last seasonâ€™s Player of the Year Ryan Brook starting to look the part and this platform helped the Hove Edge side make progress up the field but with the likes of Ryan Crossley, picked up from Guiseley and Danny Lowe (Harrogate Town) at the back - both quality defenders that will do well for the Shaymen this time - it was going to be a difficult game for Brighouseâ€™s new strikers Kieran Corley and Steve Ward, who both struggled to get into the game early on. However, the latter finished off a swift counter attack after 30 mins, initiated by one of Brighouseâ€™s new U19s squad, left back Chris Dennison, who won a 50/50 challenge in his own half and passed quickly to Wayne Crossley, who travelled up the left, cut in onto his right foot and sent an inch perfect cross to the near post for Ward to head across the keeper into the far corner and open his account for the club and get Brighouse back in the game.
Lee Williams, one of Brighouseâ€™s new keepers, then suffered the anguish of conceding to a badly deflected shot from the edge of the box by Tom Baker increasing Halifaxâ€™s lead before half time. Both teams made changes at the break, Reece Richardson replacing Williams immediately and Halifax fielding a complete new set of 11.
If Brighouse thought the second half was going to be easier, they would have to think again with ex Chester and Halifax Town striker Ryan Sugden leading the line, supported by ex Leeds Utd youth player Richard Marshall, who was with Neil Aspin at Harrogate Town last season. Brighouse now started to make changes, Ben Charlesworth was introduced to combat Sugden and Sam Talbot replaced Ryan Brook and Dave Phelps replacing Ryan Farrell. Another of Brighouseâ€™s new signings Andy Markham was working hard in the middle but lacked a partner that could ease the pressure. On 60 mins Halifax increased their lead with a dubious penalty, Chris Dennison being punished for what seemed to be a great tackle when he recovered and slid in on the left to thwart a Halifax break but the referee ruled there was no contact with the ball and Scott Phelan duly finished although Richardson guessed right and got a hand to the ball. Richardson was called into action soon after when he saved well at Marshallâ€™s feet.
Brighouse made some more changes, Calum Rodgers replacing Dennison, Damian Melvin replacing Corley and Matt Roy on for Crossley. Melvinâ€™s first involvement was to break down the left and cut inside and shoot but it was saved. Halifax finished well on 75 mins when Brighouse were caught pushing upfield and the ball was squared for Nathan MacDonald to finish easily. Brighouse replaced midfield triallist Danny Foulds with Ryan Farrell to try him in midfield and within minutes Farrell was thwarted by a fine save from the Halifax keeper from a left foot volley after a great run and cross from the lively Damian Melvin.
A good work out for both sides and with a 500 plus crowd at the Dual Seal Stadium at Hove Edge it was undoubtedly a good day for the club. Brighouse Town manager Mark Brier said, â€œWhen we saw the squad Halifax brought it was always going to be a tough start. I wanted to see how our players could cope with stress and there were times when we couldnâ€™t get the ball for a few minutes. They will have a good side this season. I know a few of their lads and they are putting together a quality squad with players from a higher level dropping down to play for the Badge. Thatâ€™s exactly what we are trying to do but they are two divisions higher than ourselves so there is still a fundamental gap in quality which was there for all to see. Darren (Attwood) and I are setting high standards and we could be disappointed but there were many positives out there for us today.â€