After taking positives from away games at Bedlington and Tow Law, but ultimately only one point, we were back at home again in our first midweek game of the season. Crook Town from just down the A690 were our visitors and we welcomed back former Brandon stalwarts Vince Kirkup and Paul Fowler to The Welfare Ground.
Hat-trick 'hero' from the Tow Law game Vinny Gash was missing, as was Michael Searby. Returning to the club after several years was 'keeper Kriss Carr who replaced Declan Greenwood.
It was Crook who started the better and after only five minutes they should have gone ahead, but a neat build up and a two on one at the back only resulted in a first time shot that was well wide of the 'keeper Carr, but also the post. More composure may have resulted in the opening goal.
That opening goal came for Brandon just seven minutes later. Crook were on the attack but a ball steal just over the half way line resulted in a three on one attack for Brandon down our left. Some neat interplay to get past the defender between Niall Fingleton and Ryan Burton led Niall to be on his own and a hard, low pass across the face of goal was met by Anthony Phillipson running in at the back post to shoot back across goal and into the net.
Crook responded well and almost drew level when a one on one with the 'keeper was well saved but the rebound from him looped over towards the net only to be headed off the line by Phillipson. The rest of the half 'belonged' to Crook and we were being dragged all over the pitch, we couldn't string more than two passes together and we just kept inviting pressure on ourselves. However, despite all this pressure, Crook weren't really hurting us - they hit the post once and Kriss pulled off a couple of 'regulation saves', but that was about it. The half did end with Crook on the front foot and making the 'keeper pull off another save.
The second half started a lot better for Brandon and we were at last starting to keep the ball to ourselves. Early chances fell to both teams with Crook again coming close. The game also started to get a bit niggly and tempers were starting to flare - the ref a couple of times had to intervene to stop things getting out of hand. This played into our hands a little bit and following some sustained pressure Brandon went further ahead. The ball was going down our left wing and a long through ball was picked up by Kieran Duffy-Weekes at the edge of the box. He used his body to get in front of the defender and was then stronger in holding him off. Hi jinked his way into the box and headed towards the net. As the keeper rushed out to meet him, Kieran in a one flowing move, took it passed him and then back footed the ball into the empty net. 2-0 to Brandon.
Crook had to come out and try and get something after this and left gaps all over the back line. A couple of times we went close but couldn't penetrate again. The second half had a lot more of a flow to it which was helped by Crook having to come out and trying to get something and Brandon, not so much hitting them on the break, but rather biding their time and playing around Crook.
When all said and done it was our first win of the season. No, it wasn't pretty for large parts of the game, but now we have something to build on and we can hopefully kick on from here.