Bridlington Town 3
Dinnington Town 0
Northern Counties East League
TOWN raced into a three-goal lead, then took their foot off the gas to show a little mercy to already-relegated Dinnington.
On the first weekend of leather on willow, the Seasiders looked like they might get a cricket score when they found themselves 3-0 ahead after 26 minutes.
But the remaining hour of the game became little more than a training match, as the home side saved energy ahead of more testing encounters in the last fortnight of the season.
Having already beaten the same opposition the previous weekend, and condemned them to relegation, Town started the more positive, Rob Eeles heading over from Alex Rhodes’ corner.
The wait for the opening goal did not last long, and it was some strike. Aaron Allanson was afforded too much room 30 yards out and he looped a shot over Luke Hands, which looked like hitting the back of the net as soon as it left the midfielder’s foot.
Allanson tried his luck again minutes later from a similar distance, the strike moving in the air but Hands saved comfortably.
Opposite number Ben Saynor dashed from his line to halt Mark Caine and Town launched a lightning quick counter-attack which brought the second goal.
A long ball gave Gareth Owen the chance to scamper past Ryan Goodinson, whose sliding tackle on the winger was nowhere near the ball and left ref Wayne Grunnil with one of the easiest penalty decisions he will have to make.
Despite Hands’ antics on the line, Craig Hogg slammed the ball straight down the middle and Town were two up in 18 minutes.
Nine minutes later it was three. Owen linked up with Hogg on the left, after a great ball from inside his own half by returning captain Tom Fleming. Owen cut inside and arrowed a shot into the far corner from 18 yards.
It was a damage limitation exercise for Dinnington now as Town had rediscovered the passing flair which had been missing in recent weeks.
Eeles was lucky to get away with a short back-header to Saynor, and even luckier that the ref didn’t spot his arm across Liam Allott as he tried to nip in ahead of the keeper.
But that was the only scare of the half. Brid seem to have a wealth of riches in defence.
A couple of weeks ago Craig Palmer was being heralded for his switch from centre-forward to centre-half, but since his injury Eeles and Lee Wright have formed the best defensive partnership of Town’s season.
An offside flag spared Hogg’s blushes when he should have done better from Rhodes’ free kick but almost all of the Seasiders’ attacks were coming through Owen.
The teenager gave Goodinson a torrid first half and he will probably still be having nightmares about his pace. The end product is not always there yet, but he was a constant threat to the full-back.
Another burst down the flank saw Owen fire in another shot which was blocked while Rhodes’ effort from the opposite wing went wide of the far post.
Fleming’s trickery in midfield started another move, but his heavy touch on the edge of the area meant it came to nothing, before Owen had the ball in the net, but the linesman’s flag had been up a while.
Dinnington offered so little, it took until the 45th minute for them to force their first corner.
The second half was played in second gear, as Town looked to avoid injuries, safe in the knowledge the points were in the bag.
Fleming hit an early 25-yarder narrowly wide and only a crucial header by Andy Sykes stopped Rhodes from having an unmissable chance on the six-yard line.
On the hour mark, Hogg had a shot blocked by Goodinson and a lovely passing move deserved a better outcome than substitute Ash Allanson’s tame finish straight at Hands.
The keeper was booked for bringing Rhodes down 35 yards from goal and Owen forced him to make a save from the resulting free kick.
As he match limped along, Owen lobbed a shot wide, Rhodes’ wayward finish summed up his day’s work and Eeles was off target from a corner.
In fact, it was Dinnington who came closest in the closing stages - Nathan Millington hitting a speculative effort from long-range which Saynor had to scramble away - the only real test for him all afternoon.
Farsley’s win at Tadcaster means the title is, realistically if not mathematically, theirs. Saturday’s trip to Parkgate will go a long way to deciding if Bridlington can clinch second place - which would still be a tremendous achievement.
TONIGHT, Town are due to cross the Humber Bridge to take on Winterton Rangers.
On Saturday, they travel to South Yorkshire to meet Parkgate, who earned a 1-1 draw with Scarborough Athletic at Queensgate last Thursday.
Easter Monday sees the Seasiders host improving Thackley, and the season finishes with another home match when Hall Road Rangers visit on Saturday, April 30.