By Cameron McAlpin
The wet, wild, and windy weather could not stop an action-packed 90 minutes of football at the Yorkshire Payments Stadium, as Brighouse Town defeated Scarborough Athletic by three goals to two.
It was a long and anxious wait for both the club and fans but finally, the loyal orange army supporters could make a return to watch their beloved team from the comfort of the stands after government guidelines allowed for the return of spectators. The fans who did decide to brave the weather were treated to an entertaining affair with both teams providing enjoyment and excitement.
From the get-go, both teams looked up for the occasion. Brighouse trying to continue their unbeaten start to pre-season after two wins and a draw in their first three games. Scarborough, however, came into today’s match on the back of a defeat to Marske United in the county cup.
While the intensity was there from both teams in the early stages, it was Scarborough looking to work the ball from wing to wing, to create gaps and opportunities. The Brighouse defence which featured the recently acquired Jack Tinker stood firm and looked to counterattack whenever possible.
The first real chance of the game also brought the first goal of the game. It was Eli Hey who worked his way towards the goal of Kyle Trennery before being brought down and earning a free-kick for the orange army.
Joe Jagger was the sole player over the ball from around 25 yards out and must have heard the pre-match comments from my commentary partner (David Foy), who was looking for more out of Jagger. Jagger looked to go under the wall and after a slight deflection found the bottom right corner to put Brighouse in the lead in the 17th minute.
Despite going behind Scarborough looked to get straight back into the game and won a free-kick for themselves after an impressive run through the centre of the pitch from Keiran Glynn. It would be the striker Piteu Cruz’s who nearly delivered from the resulting free-kick, if not for a fantastic diving save from Brighouse number one Matt Smith who managed to tip it wide for a corner.
Again, it looked like Scarborough who would get the next goal, but it would be the boys in orange that would double their lead. After some wonderful play down the left-wing between Hey and Eddie Church it was Hey who delivered a low hard cross into the box, paired with a perfectly-timed run from Jagger, who got a solid connection to send the ball into the top corner for his second of the game. Putting Brighouse two goals up in 34 minutes.
Despite not playing their best football of the preseason it was the home team who had a two-goal lead, and this may have just settled some nerves. For the remainder of the half Brighouse played their best football and looked to work it going forward, with some lovely hold up play via Jagger and tantalising runs curtsey of Church.
As is often the case in football however it was struggling side of Scarborough who managed to pip one back just before the halftime whistle. After some good build-up play of their own, Cruz found himself inside the box and a challenge from Tinker was deemed a penalty by the referee. It was Cruz who stepped up and despite Smith diving the correct way, it was an unstoppable penalty from Cruz who hit it and hard and far into the right corner, giving the Seadogs a lifeline just before the halftime whistle.
The 2nd half started slower than the first and no real chances could develop for either side, with most of the action coming in midfield as both teams battled for possession and control of the game. Despite the sloppy play, it was the visitors who created the first real chance of the second half.
A hard, low rising free-kick by Ryan Watson from the right side the Brighouse box caused trouble for the defence and found the head of Harry Coates. Coates guided the ball back to the top corner, only for a scrambling Smith to produce a fantastic save once again and maintain Brighouse’s lead.
The lead would not last though. In the 70th minute after some good defending from Brighouse to stop a possible Scarborough attack, they could not clear their lines and the ball landed to substitute Nathan Cartman. Cartmen turned well and finished smartly into the top left corner to even the game up at two apiece.
While once again it was Scarborough who looked more likely to get the winner, it was the Brighouse substitutes who made the difference and got the winning goal for the home side.
It was the best-worked goal of the day as Alhassane Keita and Javelle Clarke linked up to get the decisive goal.
The ball found Keita down the right-hand side, who immediately switched play to Clarke down the left. Some tricky footwork from Clarke allowed to get more central, and after a quick 1-2 between him and Keita, Clarke was one on one with Substitute keeper Lloyd Allinson.
It was a tight angle for Clarke, but he calmly slotted the ball into the far-right corner and put his side in the lead once again with only 13 minutes left in the game.
Scarborough looked to push for a late equaliser but the boys in orange stood tall and did not allow any clear-cut chances, allowing the final whistle to come for Brighouse’s unbeaten preseason to continue.
With two goals on the day and good hold-up/build-up play the man of the match given by David Foy was for Joe Jagger, who really was the difference-maker in the game.
Brighouse XI First Half: Matthew Smith (GK), T’nique Fishley, Jack Tinker, Tom Haigh, Kurt Harris (C), Harrsion Beeden, Leighton Sawyer, Josh Grant, Joe Jagger, Eli Hey, Eddie Church.
Subs: Joe Wilkinson, George Clarke, Sam Reed, Javelle Clarke, Jacob Mattock, Alhassane Keita, Jack Boyle, Laurence Sorhaindo