Wainman delighted as Brighouse win Play-Off Final

The Bootiful Game was among the fantastic crowd of 836 at the G and R Stadium in Pontefract as Brighouse Town completed a comprehensive 3-0 win over Pontefract Collieries in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League East Division Play off Final.

Brighouse knew before the game that even with a win, their points per game ratio virtually ruled them out of a promotion spot, but for the home side, a win would have guaranteed a third consecutive promotion; both sides had enjoyed fantastic seasons, but on the day, it was Brighouse who took the honours, writes Colin Muncie.

It was an understandably nervous start by both sides to a game of such magnitude, but gradually Brighouse took control, and only a last ditch clearance from Connor Smythe stopped Aaron Martin from giving the visitors the lead; but Martin was not to be denied, and after a good passing move finished well to Ryan Musselwhite’s left to put Brighouse in front just after the half hour. Smythe brought terrific stop from visiting ‘keeper Jordan Porter with a curling left-footed free kick, but Town retained the advantage as the half time whistle blew.

The home supporters would have been hoping for Pontefract to up their game in the second half, but were stunned almost immediately after the restart when Iwan Heeley rifled a shot high past Musselwhite to double Brighouse’s advantage. Craig Parry and Craig Rouse range the changes in an effort to get Colls back in the contest. Pontefract pushed, but Brighouse continued to look dangerous on the break, and Martin fired over from close range.

Just before the hour, though, Brighouse established a headlock on the game with a third from Gabriel Johnson , and with central defenders Kurt Harris and Rarmani Edmonds-Green in magnificent form, restricted Pontefract to very few clear opportunities, with Martin and the ever-dangerous Tyler Williams again defied by Musselwhite.

Three added minutes came and went, and the excellent referee Edward Ducksworth blew to confirm a fine win for Town and a disappointing end to a marvellous season for the Beechnut Lane club.

Bootiful Game Editor Craig Kendall caught up with Brighouse Assistant Manager Leon Wainman, and started by asking him about the context of the fixture.

TBG Leon, Brighouse beat Pontefract 3-0 today. The game effectively meant nothing but you’ve done the professional job, done the right thing and went out, did your best and won the match.

You say the game meant nothing but the game did! It meant everything to us, regardless of the situation with the leagues. Whatever happens in the summer happens but for the club itself it’s a massive step for us. The average age of the squad is 22 so for some of those players that’s their first real taste of success and hopefully it will be something we can carry forward. They’ve all done us proud today.

TBG You must be proud also of how they’ve played. To go away to Pontefract, which isn’t an easy place to visit, and come away with a fine 3-0 win.

It’s not an easy place to go to at all. I said that to you when I spoke to you the other day. When we went to them at their place a few weeks ago, we didn’t turn up as a team. We didn’t turn up and we didn’t play how we can play and that was the disappointing thing in that game.
Today, everybody’s turned up, to a man. The performance was fantastic. We won 3-0 but nobody would have complained if we said that we’d won by four or five because we did play really well today. We were strong all over the pitch and, once we scored, we dominated. We’re just happy we turned it around from the last game that we played against them.

TBG I’m watching the video of you all celebrating on the pitch at Pontefract and the joy is great to see. It was a professional performance and you can see the delight on the faces of both players and management out there. It’s been a long season for you and, to kick on for next season, it will hopefully give you the right momentum.

Definitely. Next season’s a new season so there will be higher expectation, I would imagine, because of what we’ve achieved this year. A lot of people will look at us and probably say that we’ve over-achieved this year but, inside our camp, we know that we haven’t and that’s the main thing for us.
Myself, Vill and Stacy Reed have all had belief in the set of players we’ve got and sometimes it’s just a matter of getting them to believe it. They’ve gone out there and they’ve believed and fair play to the gaffer for the way he’s worked it this year. Myself and Stacy help him out but he does a lot of work behind the scenes that a lot of the players don’t really notice so fair play to him!

Across the half way line, Pontefract Collieries goalkeeper Ryan Musselwhite agreed that his side had been off-colour on the day, but set the result in the context of an outstanding campaign. “Firstly like to say thank you to all that follow us, the management, committee and staff/volunteers and anyone else I’ve missed “Ryan told TBG.

“On today’s game, I thought we were poor” he acknowledged “We didn’t really get going and didn’t showcase what we were all about, which is obviously disappointing. Overall on reflection, they (Brighouse) deserved it on the day, but collectively the lads will stick together. We have big spirit and big characters, and we will learn and bounce back from this.”

“Finally this season the lads have been magnificent and have stood up to be counted” Ryan insisted “I think we have surprised a few people and been consistent all year; they have been a pleasure to play behind which makes my job a lot easier”.

“The team spirit is phenomenal -win, lose or draw -and that’s what Ponte is all about”.

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