BRIGHOUSE TOWN, in front of their biggest crowd of the season, lost in the 96th minute of a very exciting and challenging derby game with NPL East Division One League leaders Liversedge from just five miles down the road.
With no opposition in the immediate area 827 football enthusiasts turned out on a very grey, misty and damp afternoon and they were not short changed.
Play in the first half was virtually end-to-end with Town definitely having the upper hand and they were unlucky when their former FC Halifax Town goalkeeper Jordan Porter was only saved by the crossbar from a Jack Boyle strike.
Boyle, energetic Elliot Harrison, Shiraz Khan and Javelle Clarke took the game to the visitors who were well held in check by Matty Nebard, Harrison Beeden and fullbacks Darius Smith and Josh Grant.
There was an incident in the first half when five players were booked in the 24th minute after Town’s on loan keeper from Huddersfield Town Giosue Bellagambi was alleged to have brought down Oliver Fearon on the edge of the box. Liversedge fans were vociferous in wanting Bellagambi sent off along with the visiting players but referee Ian Johnston waved them all away. He booked Bellagambi and Nebard and for Liversedge Porter, Ross Daly and Kevy Tarangadzo.
The game got underway again after a three minute break and it always had an edge to it after that with the crowd and players fired up but the well qualified Wakefield official kept the lid on things until the half time whistle.
During the half-time break Mr Johnston felt unwell and Huddersfield official Steve Rushworth was called for over the PA system. However the appointed official opted to carry on with Mr Rushworth available on the touchline.
Both sides had chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half with Khan coming down the centre of the pitch from his own half, evading tackles and then just thwarted in the six yard box by Porter. James Hurtley was also on target and and Harrison was inches wide of Porter’s near post.
Joe Walton, Fearon , Paul Walker and then his substitute Lewis Whitham were busy in the Town box but the defence held firm until the ball was played in from their left and Halifax-based former Town and Farsley Celtic forward Ben Atkinson found the back of the net in the 74th minute to send his fans wild.
Ten minutes later and there was a melee in the centre circle with both management teams coming off the bench to separate the players. Liversedge had five former Town players in their ranks for the fixture, which speaks volumes for the talent that has been signed over recent seasons at the Yorkshire Payments Stadium
After Mr Johnston had spoke to his two assistants he sent off the Liversedge captain Jack Stockdill, another former Town player, and Town’s Corey Gregory.
Town’s heads continued to be held high and they worked for an equaliser which came their way in the 90th minute courtesy of a free kick on the edge of the box after Boyle had been brought down. The former Huddersfield and Clyde striker, who was in great form in the game, took the ball and beat the wall and Porter to plant the ball to his right.
Town fans were in great voice as the board went up for six minutes of added time. They held out well until in the sixth and final minute of `Fergie time’ Joe Walton prodded home to the left of Bellagambi.
The Town players, who had payed their proverbial socks off, and supporters were crestfallen at the score and then final whistle seconds later.
Town go again on Saturday at Ossett United (3.0) who with new management team Jas Colliver and Mark Ward in charge went to Tadcaster Albion on Monday and won 3-2 after a poor run under former manager and Bradford City player Wayne Benn.
Town had no injuries after Monday’s game but it is doubtful if strikers Zeph Thomas (hamstring) and Laurence Sorhaindo (quad muscle) will be in contention. Skipper Danny Raachi out of action since October with a serious ankle injury is getting very near to a return and striker Mohammed Ibrahim (hip) is around two weeks off. They will be allowed if selected to play Gregory under the seven day non-league ruling at Ossett before he begins a three match ban..
Town have fixed their home quarter final tie with Steeton in the West Riding County FA Senior Cup for Monday, January 17 (7.45).