Maine Road 4
by Kev Knappy
Silsden slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season in the North West Counties League.
They fell behind to a goal from Josh Harper after 15 minutes and then conceded a penalty to Connor Hughes a minute before half-time.
Hopes of a comeback were ended three minutes into the second half when Richard Williams added a third for the hosts.
Kev Ryan pulled one back for the Cobbydalers with two minutes to go but Matt Morgan completed the home tally in the closing seconds.
Brantingham Road has usually been a happy hunting ground for the Cobbydalers. But this time they returned empty handed following a lacklustre performance against an average, young and much changed Maine Road side, who punished sloppy errors to deservedly win, albeit the score flattering to deceive.
Following a midweek injury to new signing Ryan Brereton and the withdrawal of fellow midfielder Joe Mitchell, failing a pre-match fitness test, coupled with Owen Deacon-Pickard’s unavailability through illness, manager Andy Geary had to shuffle the pack, drafting Gareth Hill and youngster Josh Brown into the squad along with Josh McNulty.
Silsden started brightly, keeping good possession of the ball, albeit mainly in their own half and just into the opposition half but failing to be incisive in the final third, which proved to be a theme for the afternoon.
After just eight minutes, the visitors created their first opportunity when, following some good interplay down the right between Craig Nicholls and full-back Matty Moses, Nicholls slid a through ball, bisecting the Maine Road back line to find Dale Feather’s angled run.
But, stretching, he was unable to beat keeper Ryan Livesey’s advance from his line, the keeper blocking and colliding with Feather, injuring himself in the process, as the ball rebounded away to safety.
Minutes later, probably against the run of play, Silsden lost possession midway into their own half on the right. Jamie Roe swiftly played a diagonal ball out left to the unmarked Rick Williams who burst forward and took on Moses, before cutting the ball back across from the byline for Josh Harper to bundle the ball home.
Aminute later Maine Road almost doubled their advantage, when Silsden lost possession again in midfield and got caught with a quick ball forward but Connor Hughes shot straight at Silsden custodian Phil Rishton.
Zack Dale skied an opportunity over the Maine Road bar after 18 minutes, following some good build-up play on the right and a nice set back from Danny Gleave.
Following a decent period of pressure, where Silsden forced two consecutive corners, the second was cleared out to the left and Hughes punted a speculative ball, high beyond the visitors’ central defence.
Rishton came out and clattered into Roe, who had just got to the ball fractionally earlier and toe poked the ball goalwards only for Joe Jalil covering in behind his ‘keeper to clear the ball to safety.
Referee Smallwood had no hesitation though in bringing play back and awarding the penalty, Rishton being lucky to escape dismissal with a yellow card by virtue of his covering defender.
Connor Hughes stepped up and impudently chipped his spot kick into the net to put the home side two goals to the good just on the stroke of half-time.
Following stern half-time words, Silsden were encouraged to increase their tempo, improve the quality of the decision making, particularly in the final third but within two minutes of the re-start found themselves even further behind as defensive sloppiness cost them dear.
Andy Hill’s failed pass in his own box allowed Harper to get on the ball, cut back again into the six yards box with Rick Williams on hand to convert and compound the visitors’ misery.
It wasn’t until the 55th minute that Silsden forced Livesey into serious action with a shot on goal but the young Maine Road keeper handled well to stop Jalil’s rasping drive from the edge of the box, diving to save.
Substitute Josh McNulty then fired over, curling his left foot shot just fractionally over post and crossbar after good work from Dale.
Silsden were starting to create chances and minutes later Hill’s raking pass down the left found Dale who got to the ball first with the keeper coming out and not making the ball. But with covering defenders holding him up as he cut in, the angle narrowed and Livesey got back in his goal to block for a corner on his near post.
Then the visitors once again lost possession in their own half after 79 minutes. Maine Road got the ball forward quickly to Hughes who cut into the box before attempting to chip over Rishton, who was equal to it, pushing over his bar at the expense of a corner.
Following the kick, the locals played another dangerous ball in from the left through Williams and Rishton had to tip the ball away for another corner to avert the danger.
With just two minutes remaining Silsden did get some consolation when Ben Crabtree played a long ball forward to Kev Ryan who had pushed up into a central attacking role from centre half.
He controlled on the edge of the Maine Road box before steering his low right foot shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
But there was still time for further chances as Silsden once again gave the ball away in their final third. Harper went in on goal but Rishton did well to block with his legs on the edge of his box and Hughes ballooned his follow-up over the bar.
Then Silsden swiftly broke down the other end but McNulty’s snap shot rose well over the bar.
In the second minute of stoppage time, a long ball forward down Maine Road’s right found Tinker’s run beyond, with more than a suspicion of offside, but play was waved on and he drove forward down his flank before cutting the ball back and substitute Matty Morgan swept the ball home from close range.
Hughes still had time to curl a left-footed free-kick in from the edge of the box, to force Rishton into another diving save and then the Cobbydalers swiftly switched play down to the other end, with substitute Gaz Hill’s fierce right footer from distance forcing a fine flying save from Livesey.
The defeat left Silsden looking for a lift for Tuesday night’s visit of local rivals Barnoldswick Town in the West Riding FA County Cup at the Angel Telecom stadium, with manager Geary looking for significant improvement from his charges.
Maine Road: Livesey, A Thorpe, Flynn, Shenton, Mason, Gallanders (Hume 70), Roe (Tinker 80), Breslin, Harper, Hughes, Williams (Morgan 92). Subs (not used): Burke, Hulme, Gatward.
Silsden: Rishton, Moses, Crabtree, Gleave, Ryan, A Hill (Brown 67), Jalil, Feather, Henderson (McNulty 56), Dale, Nicholls (G Hill). Subs (not used): Mitchell, D Thorpe.
Referee: W Smallwood.
Assistants: J Neild, T Elliott.
Maine Road 4