Brighouse Town are champions of the ToolStation Northern Counties East League Premier Division, writes Josh Phillips.
Goals either side of half time from prolific striker Tom Matthews and skipper Leon Henry against Retford United on Saturday put the seal on a terrific season for Paul Quinn’s men.
The sound of the referee’s final whistle was met with jubilation all round the Dual Seal stadium. As ‘We are the champions’ played, the Brighouse players and staff rightly made the most of their moment in the sun.
Going into the game they knew a victory would see them crowned champions and extend their fantastic winning run to eight. However Quinn’s side didn’t have it all their own way as they faced Richard Sennett’s physical Retford side who had won four of their last five games.
The game began at a frantic pace with neither side able to find composure in the final third. However the warning signs were there for the visitors as Town’s attacking players showed glimpses of their capabilities, namely through Ernest Boafo whose jinking run was halted by the Retford defence.
Chances were limited for both sides in the first half as the game became a midfield battle with feisty challenges aplenty.
The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute as Town’s top scorer Matthews got to the ball before Retford keeper James Hitchcock, coolly slotting home his 42nd goal of the season.
Brighouse remained the dominant side for the rest of the first half, although Retford had two chances to level before the break. Firstly Reece Thompson was unable to capitalise on a ball played over the top of Town’s defence, before a Retford free kick was met by the head of Craig Fisher who forced a terrific close-range save from Town keeper Jacob Giles.
The second period made for a more open encounter, enabling the home side to assert their superior attacking threat.
The 59th minute saw Brighouse double their advantage as Matthews turned provider for Town skipper Henry, who showed composure to round the keeper and fire home into the roof of the net.
Just three minutes later Brighouse were denied a third goal as substitute Jason Price’s effort was saved by Hitchcock before Matthews’ rebound was hacked to safety off the line.
The final half hour saw Paul Quinn’s side really show the fast-flowing football that has earned them a 16-match unbeaten run, however the Retford defence stood firm to leave a final score of 2-0.
After the game an extremely satisfied Paul Quinn described it as “a championship winning performance”. He added “Retford came here with a game plan and made it difficult for us and I’m just delighted we got over the line.”
Despite this victory sealing their promotion, Quinn is keen to maintain high standards for the remaining league fixtures.
“We want to go and get 100 points, that’s now the target and we want to be the first team in the Northern Counties to do that. We want to keep our main players together and be as strong as we can next season. We’ll enjoy this but we need to sit down and plan for next season to make sure we go up and we’re competitive.”
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