Bridlington Town 2
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
THE Seasiders made hard work of brushing off the league’s basement boys, as Hallam made their hosts work all the way for their three points.
Anyone expecting a goal feast was left disappointed, as Town wasted two good chances in the first quarter of the game, which might have settled their nerves and opened the floodgates.
It took an 84th minute penalty from leading scorer Craig Hogg to finally put the game to bed, with Hallam low on quality but certainly not lacking in spirit.
They say the league table does not lie but the visitors looked like they might have enough to avoid the drop, certainly their six games in hand give a slightly distorted view to their plight.
However, they could, and probably should have found themselves two down after 25 minutes.
After a slow start to the game, on an awkward pitch, Hogg broke the offside trap and squared to strike partner Scott Phillips. It looked umissable but Phillips’ casual approach saw him hit the only defender on the line with his first effort and his second was saved by keeper Adam Valente.
Steve Lyon had a great opportunity to spare Phillips’ blushes shortly afterwards, breaking down the left channel with no defenders in sight.
But he always looked uncomfortable trying to shift the ball on to his right foot, and his tame shot was easily gathered by Valente.
Hogg drilled a shot narrowly wide from outside the box, but Town were struggling to find their rhythm, and needed James Bennett to make a crucial header in his own area as Billy Rowley and Gavin Hunter waited behind him.
Chances were relatively rare at both ends, with Mark Wilberforce only called upon once in the first 45 minutes, to save Aaron Moxam’s 20-yard effort on 40 minutes.
Two minutes later, and as the hosts were braced for a half-time ear-bashing, they made the breakthrough.
Hallam disputed the decision to award a corner, after Hogg’s industry down the left wing, and Bennett’s excellent set-piece was headed in at the near post by the impressive Rob Eeles for his first goal for the Seasiders.
It was almost thrown away at the start of the second period, as there was chaos in the Town box. The ball pinged around but Hallam couldn’t take advantage.
Sub Decano Stewart-Jones perked the South Yorkshire side up, but they were struggling to make headway against the excellent partnership of Eeles and Craig Palmer, who may well have found his best position at cenre half.
When Palmer did make a reckless lunge on Stewart-Jones, Ben Kistell’s free-kick was deflected off the wall to safety.
Town were struggling more than they should have been, but were inches away from a killer second as sub Gareth Owen got to the byline and whipped in a great low cross, that Bennett was a whisker away from connecting with inside the six-yard box.
A one-goal lead was not enough, and Hallam stepped things up. First Palmer made an excellent interception when Rowley’s through ball looked like splitting the defence open, and then Lee Wright produced a superb tackle to stop Stewart-Jones bearing down on goal.
Owen saw a weak shot saved and Ash Allanson then rattled the crossbar, as he rounded off a quick break. Wilberforce’s long kick was flicked on by the captain, and he surged forward to get on the end of Hogg’s cross but was denied by the woodwork.
Hallam were restricted to a couple of long-range efforts by this stage, as Town created the better chances, without looking anything like their fluent best.
Lyon’s final involvement was a shot lashed over the bar, and Hogg almost got on the end off Owen’s right-wing cross.
While the last 10 minutes were not threatening to be a backs-to-the-wall job for Brid, they were ceratinly looking like they could be uncomfortable.
That was until Valente’s dash from his penalty area eventually led to a penalty. He raced from goal to dispossess Craig Hogg but as he was trying to get back to his line, Allanson got the ball, progressed into the area and was tripped by opposing captain Phil Reynolds.
Hogg’s penalty was textbook. High into the net above Valente’s reach.
The points were safe and sub Alex Rhodes had a shot blocked and fellow replacement Mark Barber tested Valente with the follow-up.
And Town should really have had another penalty, as Hogg was felled, but ref Stuart Campbell was in no mood to award two spot-kicks in a matter of minutes.
At this time of the season, points are more important than performances, but Town will need to be much improved if they want to win the top-of-the-table clash at Farsley on Saturday.
A win at Throstle Nest will surely make the Seasiders favourites for the title.