Boro lose out in five-goal thriller at Brighouse
Boro’s first match in front of supporters for more than five months, saw them slip to defeat against a skilful Brighouse side, despite dominating possession and creating more chances than their lower division hosts.
Heavy rain before kick-off, and sporadic downpours during the match didn’t spoil what was an entertaining game for the decent sized crowd.
Boro made a bright start, dominating early possession, and Bailey Gooda glanced a header inches wide, then Flynn McNaughton drilled a low shot past the far post.
Brighouse hardly had a touch in the opening 15 minutes, but they went in front from their first attack, when Joe Jagger struck a 20-yard free kick that was deflected past Boro keeper Kyle Trennery into the bottom corner of the net.
Boro almost got an immediate equaliser when a right-wing corner from James Cadman was headed goalwards by Gooda, but the ball was scrambled clear by the massed home defence, then a surging run from the impressive Kieran Glynn saw him race past three defenders before being brought down, and Piteu Crouz curled the free-kick round the wall, but keeper Matt Smith tipped the ball over the bar.
Brighouse had been penned back in their own half, but on 34 minutes they doubled their lead when a low cross from Eli Hey was slammed into the net at the far post by Joe Jagger, and shortly afterwards Eddie Church shot narrowly wide as the home side started to take control of the game.
Then in first-half stoppage time Boro pulled a goal back, as Cadman fed Crouz in the inside right channel, and he raced past a defender before going down under a tackle, and the referee pointed to the spot.
It seemed a harsh decision, but Crouz struck the spot-kick to the right of the keeper and second later the half time whistle blew.
Boro boss Darren a Kelly made a host of changes at the interval, bringing on Nathan Cartman, Michael Coulson, Ryan Watson, Ryan Blott and Kian Spence, and again it was Boro who enjoyed the majority of possession.
Glynn showed some lovely touches and Spence was outstanding as Brighouse were penned back in their own half, although to be fair, not many clear chances were created.
The best move of the match occurred on 58 minutes when a hard driven free-kick by Watson on the right, was met with a thumping header from centre-back Harry Coates.
The ball seemed destined for the top corner, but keeper Smith made a fantastic diving save to flick the ball over the bar.
Cartman flicked a shot wide from an Ashley Jackson cross, then a Watson corner was headed out by a home defender to Gooda, who sent a fierce shot back towards goal, but the ball was scrambled clear.
Boro deservedly drew level on 70 minutes, when clever interplay between Glynn and Spence led to the latter teeing up Blott, who had his shot blocked.
The ball broke to Cartman, and he struck a stinging shot past the keeper to register his fourth goal in four pre-season games.
After being on top for so long, it seemed likely that Boro would then go on to win the game, but they suffered a sucker blow just seven minutes later when a Brighouse move, than involved both T’Nique Fishley, who played 18 games for Boro last season, and Hasan Keita, who had a brief spell with Boro back in 2016.
The ball was played forward to Javelle Clarke who appeared to be five yards offside on the edge of the Boro six-yard box, but no flag was forthcoming, and the unmarked Clarke chipped the ball over Lloyd Allinson to give the home side a 3-2 lead.
Boro tried to secure a late equaliser, but Brighouse defended in numbers, and perhaps the best chance of a leveller came when a Coulson shot struck the defender in the face.
BORO TEAM - Trennery, Barrett, Jackson, Smalley, Gooda, Coates, AN Other, Cadman, McNaughton, Glynn, Crouz Subs used- Allinson, Spence, Cartman, Coulson, Blott, Watson, Avison, Parker, Brown, Beadle.
BORO MAN OF MATCH - Kian Spence.
REFEREE - Henry Naylor.