Carr (2), Higginbotham and Hopson net in win
AFC Emley’s senior side stood toe-to-toe against Town’s Under-21 side for the first 25 minutes of tonight’s pre-season friendly at the Welfare Ground, but in the end the Terriers’ superior technical ability shone through and three late goals gave an emphatic look to the scoreline.
Daniel Carr could be pleased with his night’s work after grabbing a brace and an assist, with Kallum Higginbotham and Dale Hopson completing the scoring.
At the other end, Town’s defence was rarely troubled thanks in large to experienced performances from centre backs Liam Ridehalgh and Tom Smith.
It was the hosts, who play in the Northern Counties East League Division One, who made the better start in the game as Town struggled to find their passing rhythm. The Under-21s still created chances, but were wasteful in several set-piece deliveries.
‘Keeper Lloyd Allinson showed good alertness off his line all game and his early kick setup Town’s first chance of the game in the 12th minute. His delivery drifted over the head of right back Devon McIntosh and into the path of Jimmy Spencer, but after cutting inside his eventual shot was weak and was easily dealt with by the goalkeeper.
At the other end Allinson held speculative efforts from Schofield and Mugdaza well as Emley held their own, but the Terriers started to enjoy their best spell midway through the half – and immediately went close. Max Leonard, who saw a lot of the ball in a midfield berth, delivered a much better corner to the back post where centre back Tommy Smith headed towards goal – but a defender managed to scramble the ball off the line.
Leonard soon forced the goalkeeper into a save with a blistering long-range drive, but Town were not to be denied and took the lead in the 29th minute courtesy of summer arrival Daniel Carr. The former Dulwich striker picked up a pass on the left side of the penalty area and twisted past the right back before clipping the ball inside the far post from out wide. It might have been a cross, but if it was a shot it was inspired!
Emley winger Aaron Joseph tried to lead the fight-back just after the half hour mark, catching out Town left back Robbie McIntyre before advancing and sending a pinpoint cross to the back post for Brighton Mugadza. Fortunately for Town, the Emley man completely scuffed his shot and the chance was gone.
Dale Hopson – who was constantly available for a pass in midfield – had the next effort with five minutes of the half remaining when he picked up a clever lay-off from Spencer in the area, but the goalie managed to gather his shot low to his right-hand side.
Emley fought back, with midfielder Haigh testing Allinson with a powerful shot, but the final chance of the half fell to Town’s most experienced player on the night, Kallum Higginbotham. The ex-Falkirk man seized upon a poor clearance from Emley’s keeper, but got caught in two minds between shooting and squaring the ball and, in the end, succeeded at doing neither.
Town were playing down the slope in the second half and, in stark contrast to the start of the first 45 minutes, dominated from the off during the second half. Despite this, they had to wait until the 72nd minute for the second goal.
Steve Eyre changed the team’s shape in the second period, with Duane Holmes switching with Hopson and influencing the centre of the park with his trademark changes of pace and wide range of passing alongside Crooks. He set Carr away in the 49th minute, but the striker snatched at his shot.
Leonard then fired at the ‘keeper after showing good feet inside the area before Spencer, Higginbotham and Crooks all fired wide of target.
However, the goal eventually came with just under 20 minutes left. The impressive Hopson found Carr’s run down the right channel and with the defence claiming offside, the striker burst clear. He looked up and played a simple square pass to Higginbotham, who comfortably slotted past the ‘keeper.
That goal opened the floodgates for Town, aided by some impressive late cameo appearances from Academy scholars Jake Charles and Philip Billing. With eight minutes left winger Charles fired a cross into the feet of Carr, who was tripped inside the penalty area. The striker picked himself up and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 3-0.
The icing on the cake came with four minutes left when Hopson deservedly got on the scoresheet, firing another Charles cross home with an impressive outside of the boot finish.
Town’s U21 team (4-3-1-2):
Lloyd Allinson (Ed Wilczynski 74); Robbie McIntyre, Liam Ridehalgh, Tom Smith, Duane Holmes (Jake Charles 80); Matt Crooks (c), Dale Hopson, Max Leonard (Philip Billing 77); Kallum Higginbotham; Daniel Carr (Joe Wilkinson 84), Jimmy Spencer