Hall Road Rangers 0 v Brighouse Town 1
It wasn't pretty, but ugly win moves Town up to third.
Town managed to come back from Hull with all three point in what has to be the worst game of the season to watch. Heavy rain throughout the game made the pitch very greasy on top but also firm underneath and bobbly which contributed to both sets of players struggling to control the ball and numerous passes going astray.
Town looked the stronger side from the start; Tom Matthews and Leon Henry setting up Danny Hull for a good chance after only 2 mins which home keeper James Fossdyke saved well. Danny Hull repaid the favour minutes later giving Matthews the chance to shoot wide from a narrow angle.
Town looked very solid at the back, and along with midfielders Ryan Brook and Greg Porter were preventing Hall Rd from mounting any serious attacks. However, although Town were clearly on top, their attacking play never really flowed and the frustration grew amongst the players. As ever, Tom Matthews was a threat; Sutcliffe and Danny Hull combining to find him in the box but Town’s top scorer couldn’t get his shot away.
On 20 mins Nick Jaggar made an excellent defensive tackle to snuff out a rare Hall Rd attack but it was still Town who were making the best chances. On 24mins, Danny Naidole’s pass found Danny Hull and his well struck shot brought a brilliant save from the in-form Fossdyke. However, the home keeper could do nothing to prevent Matthews giving Town the lead on 27mins. Danny Hull was the provider; beating his man and delivering a cross to the far post for Matthews to send a looping header into the net. From the restart Hull again crossed well but this time Jamie Heard cleared well for the home side.
Naidole looked a threat out wide and put a couple of dangerous balls across the face of goal which weren’t converted. Ten minutes before the break, Hall Rd had their best spell of pressure as Town’s level of performance dropped. Steve Gauthorpe, who worked hard the home side throughout, was only narrowly wide with a 25 yd effort on 36mins.
Town finished the half with Fossdyke saving well at his near post from Matthews after Danny Hull had slipped a pass through to him.
Town started the second half with a bit more purpose; skipper Nick Jaggar strode out of defence and chipped a lovely lofted ball over the defensive line for Danny Hull to latch onto, but he ball wouldn’t sit right for him to make the right contact and Fossdyke saved again.
One of the better pieces of football from Town minutes later saw Matthews lay Naidole’s cross into the path of Leon Henry, but the diminutive winger couldn’t get enough power into his shot to trouble Fossdyke.
On 55 mins came a controversial moment in the match as Hall Rd had a big shout for a penalty turned down. Jaggar slid in to block Gauthorpe’s cross, and the attacker went down in the box. The Referee adjudged that the attacker had gone over the defenders leg rather than been caught by it, and booked him for diving. A brave call by the Referee, but Hall Rd’s protestations could be understood.
A feeling of injustice spurred Hall Rd into a spell of pressure; again without really creating clear-cut chances although Adam Wilson had to produce an excellent defensive header to keep it so. On 57 mins Town made a double substitution, Brown and Brook being replaced by Academy prospect Ben Grech and Anthony Haigh as Paul Quinn tried to inject some life into a dull game.
Midway through the half, it looked as though Town had got the important second goal they craved when Ben Grech found Hull who crossed for Matthews. The Town striker steadied himself before placing a shot past Fossdyke but the ball came back off the inside of the post and was cleared to safety.
As the game went on, the quality didn’t improve and but a single goal lead brought its own tension as Town understandably didn’t want to surrender their lead chasing a second goal and Hall Rd naturally started to throw caution to the wind a little. Leon Henry put in a good cross that skimmed the head of Ben Grech when well placed and the youngster was dragged back right on the edge of the box as he broke through minutes later.
The home side didn’t really create a chance or an effort on target that troubled Town keeper Ben Imeson although Danny Ricketts had a half chance he would have been disappointed to have not hit the target with late on.
Manager Paul Quinn got the win he wanted if not the performance and there were mitigating circumstances for that considering the conditions, but the whole Club were rightly delighted the three points had lifted Town up to third position in the League table.