Nicholls stars as Cobbydalers maintain bright start

Silsden 2 Asthon Athletic 1
The Cobbydalers maintained their position in the top four in a hard fought game against a strong Athletic outfit who started the day only two points below the Silsden team. The Yorkshiremen took the lead in the first minute with a quality goal. Josh Brown won the ball up the left and slid it to Zack Dale. Dale broke forwards from the half way line before drilling a ball though the Athletic defence. Craig NICHOLLS, who was on it in a flash, drew the Ashton keeper and coolly curled the ball round him to give the Cobbydalers the initiative. Five minutes later Nicholls netted a second with a similar move, Zack Dale having driven the ball to Dale Feather who split the defence with a perfect through ball. Unfortunately the assistant’s flag was raised for offside.
Silsden were rampant with swift movement and passing and Nicholls almost notched a second when he cut in from the right. A strong run by Dale up the right saw Feather shoot across the goal, but his effort was blocked. Finally the visitors settled. Paul Casey curled in a deep cross which Danny Thorpe managed to push for a corner. Then Jamie Harrison hit a thirty yard effort which just cleared the bar.
Athletic began to apply the pressure and the Cobbydalers struggled to clear the ball against a strong wind. The visitors’ equaliser was initially down to poor decision making. Feather, on the left and facing his own goal, hit a high ball back to Kevin Ryan. Ryan was put under pressure and lost the ball to Dean Midgeley. Midgeley crossed it to Michael DOWNING who drove the ball across the face of Thorpe. Thorpe managed to get a hand to it but could not keep it out of the net.
Silsden took a while to settle and when Feather was dispossessed, both Ben Crabtree and Ryan were left stranded. Fortunately Athletic wasted the opportunity.
After a brief sortie upfield by Zack Dale, Andy Hill put Crabtree under pressure. The full back slipped but Hill got back to clear the danger. At the other end Crabtree fed Nicholls who took it to the by-line before driving in a low cross into the box. There were no takers.
A long ball from Athletics keeper caught Brown off guard but Ryan managed to deflect Aaron Cringle’s shot for a corner. The ball was half cleared but only to Sam Bailey who shot wide. Ryan then blocked efforts from Midgeley and Downing.
Downing curled an effort wide before Midgeley headed to Thorpe after good work by Adam Howard.
Silsden had only posed the odd threat in the first half, but they came out with the wind at their backs for the second half. However, the visitors soon created chances against the wind Downing shot wide before having a second effort blocked. Midgeley got onto a flick from Howard but he had strayed offside.
Finally Silsden began to gain some control. Once again Nicholls was the threat breaking down the left to bring a low save from Jason Foulds. Nicholls created another chance for Hill but the Silsden skipper’s effort lacked power. Midfield dynamo Joe Mitchell then shot inches wide from another Nicholls’ cross.
At the other end a heavy touch by Hill saw Downing steal the ball. With Ryan beaten, Downing drove his effort over the bar. Minutes later Hill curled in a free kick from the half-way line which Foulds tipped for a corner. The ball was cleared but only to Dale, who saw a low shot, partially saved, and then the follow up finally gathered by Foulds.
Once more Nicholls tormented the home defence down the right and crossed over the face of goal. Joe JALIL, on for Brown, drove in a low cross to the near post. Foulds managed to push it clear but only after it had crossed the line. A minute later Feather had a one-on-one with the Ashton keeper but his shot was well saved.
Ten minutes from time, Howard drove a shot wide of the far post and then Moses cleared Regan’s effort over his own bar. Silsden counter attacked and a series of corners followed. They looked to have weathered the storm but in the third minute of injury time the visitors broke from left back moving the ball across to the right and up the wing where Reagan crossed the ball into the Silsden area. It reached the far post where Midgeley, at full stretch, shot wide of the goal.
A draw might have been a fair result in the end. It hadn’t been vintage Silsden but it was another victory. This time last year Silsden might have succumbed to the pressure but, with a blend of experience and youth, there is more resilience about the Cobbydalers now.

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