Droylsden 0-3 Brighouse Town
By Dave Parker
AN Aaron Martin hat-trick ensured Brighouse Town finished their Evo-Stik NPL Division One North season on a high with a 3-0 away win at Droylsden.
Sheffield-based Martin, who has finished the season as leading goalscorer on 18 goals, could have had at least another four goals with a little more luck. The Greater Manchester side struggled with him for most of the game and particularly in the last quarter of it as they tired and he was still full of running.
Town also had to be fair to thank a crossbar, a post and the agility of keeper George Clarke to keep a clean sheet as the home side did have their moments as they targeted centre forward Sefton Gonzales who has played at a higher level.
Mohammed Ibrahim had an early chance to give Town the lead but his flicked shot went wide and then Isaac Marriott and Finn Donovan weaved their way into the box before one pass too many denied a goalshooting opportunity.
Town had to make an early substitution when Adam Jones (groin) was replaced by Iwan Heeley after 15 minutes.
On 22 minutes Martin looked on agonisingly as the ball squirmed out of a one-on-one situation with home keeper Ben Barber and the ball rolled slowly towards goal only for a defender at the last minute to hack it clear.
Town had to make another change in the 30th minute after Ibrahim was injured in a tackle and he was replaced by Gabriel Johnson.
The home defence looked unsure of themselves and kept on passing the ball back and then creating problems for themselves and an anxious set of Town players were caught offside as chances came and went.
On 43 minutes Town did open their account when Martin finally got chance to hare down on goal and he made no mistake in blasting it past Barber to put his side 1-0 up.
Three minutes into the second half and Clarke made a good save from Liam Caddick and his skipper Adam Field cleared the danger. Shortly afterwards James Hurtley committed a foul and from the free kick Droylsden saw the ball blocked by Clarke and then a Town defender head the ball on to his own crossbar but once again they breathed a sigh of relief.
Town then brought on Tom Haigh for Donovan in the 65th minute and he was on in time to see Droylsden sub Callum Bagshaw hit a post and see the ball rebound out and cleared to safety.
From thereon in it was all Town and Haigh played a good ball to Johnson who then fed Martin for goal number two as he gave Barber no chance. Heeley almost got to a through ball and was just denied by Barber and then Martin had two chances to grab his hat-trick but he was a little hasty and they went wide of target before at the other end Clarke tipped over from a now rare home sortie.
Finally, in the second minute of added time Martin did claim the match ball as he took the ball through the home defence .shrugging off a late challenge and then put his laces through the ball to make sure.
Droylsden: Barber, Antoine-Clarke, Holden, Kpohomouh (Dominic Smith), Shaw, Dylan Smith, Daley, Ali (Bagshaw), Gonzales, Caddick, Phillips (Maloney). Unused subs: Kilheeney, Moran.
Brighouse Town: Clarke, Crowley, Grimshaw, Marriott, Field, Hurtley, Donovan (Haigh), Jones (Heeley), Martin, Ibraham (Johnson), Naidole. Unused subs: Griffin, Hammond.
Referee: Mr Joseph Pettitt.