Barnoldswick Town 2 Silsden 1
by Jim Rosser
A late goal from Mark Threlfall wrecked Silsden’s hopes of snatching a Boxing Day point in their North West Counties League match at Barlick.
Aaron Hollindrake put the hosts ahead after eight minutes but Lee McGowan equalised 10 minutes before half-time.
Threlfall struck the winner with five minutes to go.
The Cobbydalers travelled to Barlick for the Boxing Day derby with the clear instructions from manager Andy Geary to expect a battle, not “El Classico”.
His words went unheeded in a first half when the only Christmas cheer they got was that they weren’t at least three goals down before Lee McGowan netted for the Cobbydalers on the stroke of half-time to level the scores.
Barlick, with three former Silsden players in their line-up, Jake McEneaney, Harry Thompson and Aaron Hollindrake, dominated the first half with some slick passing and movement, constantly opening up the over-stretched Silsden back four.
The pitch had a greasy surface, which suited the smaller players with their low centre of gravity.
The interchanges between Thomson, Joel Melia and Sam Howell created several good chances for the Barlick forwards, attacking their favourite sewer end of the ground.
The first fell to Barlick skipper Bill Williams, who headed Melia’s cross straight at Ed Hall in the Silsden goal.
It wasn’t long before the home side took the lead and as so often happens it was HOLLINDRAKE, “the ghost of Christmas past”, who netted against his former club, heading in a cross from Melia.
Hollindrake should have doubled the score six minutes later but he blasted over from close range, after the Silsden defence had been cut open again.
Silsden finally broke forward in the 15th minute, which led to a corner. Andy Hill’s corner was half cleared to James Gill who saw his effort cleared for another corner, which was eventually cleared.
The ball was moved swiftly up the left where Melia and Connor Smith exposed Ben Crabtree. His cross was headed goalward by Hollindrake but Gleave cleared. Howell then got in the space behind Crabtree to shoot wide.
Midway through the half, Hollindrake broke into the box and shot fiercely but his effort came back off a post.
Gill and Hill were being overrun in the middle of the park and the wide men, Josh McNulty and Owen Deakin-Pickard, did little to support their overworked full-backs, while Chris Wademan was a peripheral player, well short of the form he showed before his suspension.
Barlick had more chances. A poor clearance by Hall was intercepted by Melia, who wasted a clear chance before seeing his next effort deflected for a corner, which Hollindrake headed.
Ten minutes before the break Silsden finally exerted some pressure. McGowan and McNulty combined to free Crabtree down the left. His cross was fumbled by Lyle Davy in the home goal, the ball was cleared for a corner.
Hill swung the ball in from the right, Davy could only get a finger tip to it, but Gill, winning the ball at the far post, couldn’t direct it into the net.
Barlick broke up the right where Thomson overhit his through ball to Hollindrake, who was free.
Barlick were punished for their profligacy. Two shots from McNulty, one pushed away and one too high, were followed by the equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
A touch of magic by Gill saw him able to split the defence open, McGOWAN headed the cross over the helpless Melia from the edge of the box.
Barlick could have been three or four up but the scores were level.
The half-time team talk in the Cobbydalers dressing room must have been interesting if Geary’s face, when he left the pitch, was anything to go by.
Silsden came out fired up. A cushioned header from McGowan was intercepted by the keeper before, in another attack, Wademan laid the ball back to Hill who tried to curl the ball into the Barlick net.
Defensively Silsden were also working harder, Gill tracking back to deny Hollindrake, after Melia’s through ball had split the visitors’ defence.
McGowan again set up Wademan but Davy was swiftly off his line to smother the ball.
A further combination between the two ended with Wademan heading wide.
Barlick then replaced Hollindrake with the experienced Mark Threlfall and Kristian Hargreaves came on for Crabtree.
Gleave and Danny Fagan were keeping it tight at the back but when McEneany broke up the left, Fagan was relieved when his deflection came back off his own post.
Barlick were able to bring on Paul Fildes and Liam Blades, two more players with a wealth of experience, in the final minutes, while Geary brought on Mikey Hall.
Fildes was soon in the action, shooting narrowly wide of the target but with five minutes left Geary would have settled for a point. It wasn’t to be.
With the play stretched, Wademan, naively, dallied on the halfway line and lost possession.
The Cobbydalers were stretched and the ball was moved swiftly forwards. THRELFALL broke clear to put the home side 2-1 up.
Silsden pushed forward but to no avail. Fildes brought a fine save from Ed Hall in the dying minutes but, if truth be told, the Cobbydalers had been out-thought and outfought.
See more of David S Brett’s photos, here.