REPORT: Wetherby Athletic 3-1 Brighouse Old Boys
Improved Second Half Performance Sees Athletic Through.
Wetherby dodged a potential banana skin of a League Cup tie, but it took a improved second half display in front of goal to overcome a 1-0 deficit and book a place in the second round.
In a changed line-up from the one that lost to Tadcaster Magnets last weekend, Athletic welcomed back both Dom Creamer and Dave McKay and were also able to name Matt Lombard on the bench for the first time this season following his recovery from broken fingers.
It didn’t take long for Wetherby to work their way into Brighouse’s area and it needed a covering defender to knock Josh Wilson’s shot away from goal after the striker had managed to nip in front of the advancing goalkeeper and get to the ball. As the clearance dropped outside the area, Creamer tried his luck, but as before, a defender blocked the shot.
Athletic conspired to be their own worst enemy as two orange shirted players collided with each other and allowed Brighouse to capitalise down the left flank. Fortunately, Tom Frost was ideally placed to head clear the cross before any further danger came to pass.
Play swung back into Brighouse’s half and a half volley by Liam McEntee was placed over the bar, before John Tehrani’s angled drive ended the same way.
Wilson nearly opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Jamie Gillies ran onto Andrew Graham’s pass. Curling in a fast cross, the pace deceived the youngster who couldn’t connect with it despite stretching.
The match had a physical edge to it and twice in quick succession Mr McHale had to lecture Brighouse players, as both Wilson and Brian Blewitt found themselves the recipients of scything challenges.
As has been the norm in the past few weeks, the majority of the play belonged to Athletic, but despite huffing and puffing, Wetherby were unable to fashion clear cut chances and what we did create were comfortably dealt with by Brighouse’s defence.
With the game entering the 38th minute, Wetherby were put under a spell of pressure as the visitor’s surged down the right. Coming across, McKay had to produce two good blocks before Graham headed clear, under pressure, from a monster throw-in.
Athletic responded and Creamer forced a decent save from the keeper before he claimed Anthony Walsh’s downwards header with ease. Minutes later, the custodian pulled off another terrific save, this time denying Wilson with his legs, after the youngster had gone on a mazy run and shot from just inside the area.
With three minutes of extra time played, Wetherby found themselves behind in almost comical fashion! Defending a free-kick, Graham saw his clearance smash into a orange shirt and fall at the feet of the Brighouse striker. Needing no invitation to shoot, he drilled the ball over Mike Recchia and into the top corner rendering Athletic dumbstruck!
Leaving little doubt about what the Manager had said during the half time break, Athletic tore into Brighouse from the off and forced the visitors back into their own half, but resolute defending prevented any shots from troubling their goal.
A decisive break down Wetherby’s right flank saw a good shot on the turn just fly over Recchia’s crossbar, although the custodian did look to have it covered.
Athletic were back on level terms in the 52nd minute when Walsh’s cross nicked off a defender and spun towards the keeper, however a mix up between goalie and centre back saw neither of them collect the ball and it fell to the feet of Gillies who had the easiest task of slotting home from three yards out!
Brighouse seemed to be limited to attacking down the right flank, but each time they did, Graham or Frost were well placed to get a foot in and disrupt the play.
A trio of chances nearly gave Wetherby the lead, but good defending and a superb tip over from the grounded keeper from Blewitt saw the scores remain level.
Changing his team around, Gillies was replaced by Freddie Jackson in the 60th minute and straight away he won a corner with a powerful run down the left wing.
Brighouse survived a strong shout for a penalty in the 63rd minute when the ball appeared to strike a raised arm in the area, despite the multiple calls, Mr McHale remained unmoved and play continued.
The visitor’s produced two good chances to take the lead with the first being blocked by Jackson and then poor control at the back post saw the ball ricochet off the legs of the Brighouse player and behind the goal.
Having survived the first penalty shout, Brighouse were astonished when Mr McHale awarded Wetherby a spot kick in the 72nd minute after the ball bounced up and hit a defender. In all honesty, it was a soft penalty, but Tehrani made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Brighouse nearly fashioned an instant reply when a well struck free-kick, twenty yards outside the area, just flashed wide of Recchia’s post.
Wetherby wrapped up the game in the 77th minute when Lombard’s (who had replaced McEntee) long pass found Blewitt and his cross picked out Walsh. Twisting into position, the striker claimed his eighth goal of the season with a low shot.
Athletic were starting to give away silly free-kicks near their area and it took a good block to stop Brighouse from pulling a goal back.
With the game entering the final five minutes, Brighouse’s keeper produced a solid punch to clear Lombard’s corner from underneath his crossbar with Blewitt challenging strongly.
The match ended with Wetherby on the attack and it was Blewitt who was unlucky not to be celebrating after a good run had taken him past three red shirts, but not for the first time, a superb block by the keeper denied him a goal.
In the end a good win, but one that could have been by a greater margin had we taken the many chances that we had. However saying that, the team are creating plenty of opportunities and that is always a good thing and with the calibre of players that we do have, we should always have a chance of converting.
Report by Pete Arnett.
The Red Lion Wetherby Man of the Match - This one goes to John Tehrani for an action display. Never one to shirk away from a tackle, John produced several telling balls and crosses of his own from the right flank and a well taken penalty gave Athletic the lead right when we needed it the most.
Gaffer’s Post-Match Reaction - “We knew that this would be a different match from the first time the two teams met. They lined up with some new faces and a different formation which gave us a bit more space on the wings. It was a very scrappy game and the wind didn’t help either team, but 3-1 and through to the next round, I’ll take that!”
On creating chances - “We seem to have the same conversation every week don’t we! We create chance after chance after chance and then come in at the break 1-0 down. It was the same story today and we really should have been two or three up before they scored, but we gave away a soft free-kick and then it’s an uphill battle for the second half. It was the same last week against Tadcaster! It’s brilliant that we are creating all these chances, but we really need to start taking them more often. It will be a different game next week at Featherstone and we really will have to take our chances there.”
On Dave McKay and Matt Lombard - “it was good to see them both back. Dave has been travelling but fitted in at centre-half like he’d never been away and It was just a case of getting Matt fit again as he hasn’t played for about four months, but you could see what he brings technically to the team. He is a good footballer and we just need to get him minutes on the pitch now.”
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