Bridlington Town 1
Spennymoor Town 5
FA Vase First Round
SPENNYMOOR arrived with a big reputation, big budget, big following and the tag of bookies’ favourites to win the FA Vase.
They left Queensgate having proved why, with many Bridlington fans branding them the best team to beat The Seasiders in many, many years.
After 10 league wins in a row, the Seasiders were brought down to earth faster than record-breaking skydiver Felix Baumgartner, as their Northern League visitors gave them an education.
Every mistake was punished, every misplaced pass meant a minute or so chasing shadows and every set-piece was expertly delivered, with swerve or dip or precision, which meant it asked questions of Brid’s defence.
Despite the gulf, Bridlington stuck to their guns and were rewarded with a cracking consolation goal, but a period of panic 15 minutes before half time meant the tie had been decided long before.
Packed with ex-professionals, an England under 19 international goalkeeper and a former Republic of Ireland under 19 captain, Spennymoor arrived with a 100% league record and priced up 8/1 to enjoy success at Wembley in this competition.
The hosts afforded them the respect of playing just one striker, in Scott Phillips, with Craig Hogg dropping on to the left-wing and Eddie Cass coming in at right wing with Billy Logan operating in front of him.
Top scorer Carl Stewart, who had missed the two previous games while on holiday, had to settle for a place on the bench alongside Nathan Cook, who picked up a knock against Maltby Main.
Despite a more defensive line-up than usual, the hosts did not appear overawed and held their own for the first quarter-of-an-hour. In that period, Ash Allanson had narrowly diverted a low Dan Groves cross past his own post and Daniel Moore headed over a curling free kick from Keith Graydon, who ran the show with his dead balls.
The deadlock was broken when referee Keith Lawson infuriated Bridlington by giving a penalty, when Chris Jenkinson challenged Graydon. The midfielder was heading away from goal, and went to ground easily, but by lunging into the tackle, Jenkinson gave the official the opportunity to point to the spot.
The impressive Gavin Cogdon was clinical from 12 yards, despite Mark Wilberforce guessing the right way.
The pressure continued to build and Chris Batchelor was needed to clear off the line from a corner before Mark Davison’s powerful header from another flag-kick only just cleared the bar.
Another goal was on the cards, but suddenly three arrived in 11 minutes before the interval. Graydon delivered another dangerous free kick with Michael Laws headed down and an unmarked Joe Walton volleyed home from five yards.
Then came a brilliant individual goal from Wayne Phillips, who weaved his way past three challenges and fired past Wilberforce into the near corner.
Bridlington were all at sea and a fourth goal arrived on 43 minutes when Walton tapped home Lewis Dodds’ cross from the left wing.
Bachelor replied with a dipping volley which fell wide, but half tie arrived with Moors keeper David Knight not having to make a single save.
Stewart replaced Cass early in the second half and it signalled an improvement from the Seasiders. Admittedly, the visitors had their foot off the pedal, but a sense of adventure benefited them.
The substitute managed Town’s first shot on target on 62 minutes, flicking the ball over a defender and volleying an effort too close to Knight, and soon afterwards Batchelor cleared the bar from 35 yards.
Another attacker arrived in the form of the eager Mike Jones, and within three minutes Bridlington grabbed a goal. Skipper Tom Fleming had spurred his troops on against the odds all afternoon. He won the ball in the Spennymoor half, aimed a pass at Hogg, who allowed the ball to run across him and before he had decided what to do, Scott Phillips was on the scene to hammer a first-time shot which whistled past Knight.
It was only right that Spennymoor had the final say, given their dominance. They added a fifth when two of their subs linked up nicely - Andrew Stephenson skipped into the penalty area and cut the ball back for Steven Richardson, who had a simple job with an empty net before him.
On paper, Bridlington and Spennymoor should be evenly-matched, being top of their respective Step Five leagues. In reality, it is like saying Celtic and Real Madrid are on a par because they are champions of their respective countries.
The Seasiders have dished out enough five-goal hidings in recent seasons, so they had to take this one on the chin and focus again on the league.
Bridlington fans were left to applaud a masterclass. Spennymoor fans should think about checking out hotels in the North London area for the springtime.