Bridlington Town 5
Staveley Miners Welfare 2
TOWN blew away title rivals Staveley Miners Welfare after a masterclass in finishing from leading scorer Craig Hogg.
He helped himself to four goals as the Seasiders found themselves 5-0 before an hour had been played, and only lapses in concentration in the last 15 minutes gave the scoreline a slightly more balanced look.
Staveley had shown their credentials by winning 2-1 at Queensgate against Scarborough Athletic less than a fortnight earlier.
But they were made to look very ordinary by Brid, who dominated all but the very beginning and the very end of the 90 minutes.
Town welcomed back Frank Belt after a season-and-a-half with their tenants, and he went straight into the starting 11 replacing the injured Ash Allanson, whose hamstring problem is not as bad as was initially feared and he should be able to return for this Saturday’s FA Vase clash at Whitley Bay.
The visitors made the more assured start, looking technically sound and keen to beat Brid at their own game with some neat passing.
Full back Kyle Fores-Chambers was particularly impressive down the right and almost gave his side the lead on seven minutes.
After getting the rub of the green in a challenge with Craig Palmer on the edge of Brid’s area, he floated a shot which Mark Wilberforce seemed unconcerned about but it bounced back off the crossbar.
More neat passing around the home side’s 18-yard line saw Jordan Eagers get a sight of goal, but his effort went harmlessly wide.
So, it was against the run of play that Bridlington went ahead on 17 minutes. Craig Hogg was played in down the right and he executed an immaculate lob which caught everyone by surprise, not least keeper Ian Deakin.
Nine minutes later, with Town settled by their opening goal, they doubled their advantage. Bennett’s clever pass found Hogg and he provided another impeccable finish - waiting for Chris Fawcus to dive in, skipping past him and calmly beating Deakin.
Josh Greening tried to repeat his strike partner’s first goal but his lob from a similar position, was too heavy, and marauding full back Billy Logan fired a shot over the bar.
Hogg had a third goal disallowed for offside on 36 minutes, while Greening twice saw long range efforts comfortably nestle in Deakin’s midriff.
Chris Coy was off target with Staveley’s only other chance as Brid took control, and Belt almost re-introduced himself to Seasiders’ fans with an audacious 40-yard shot after spotting Deakin off his line but his effort cleared the bar.
After the break, a rampant Bridlington hit three goals in 10 minutes, to wrap up the points.
Hogg completed his hat-trick five minutes into the second half and scored Town’s 50th league goal of the season.
Sent through by Bennett, he had time and acres of space to beat Deakin, who wasn’t looking like the most impressive keeper to visit this season.
Welfare missed an absolute sitter, when Ryan Damms was sent through with the type of chance Hogg would have filled his boots with. But unlike his opposite number nine, the Staveley man lacked composure and spooned a shoot into the side netting.
Hogg showed him how to do it two minutes later.
Another tremendous ball by Bennett, saw the Brid striker one-on-one with Staveley skipper Tom Jones, and the visitors discovered it’s not unusual for the end result to be the ball in the back of the net.
Within a minute, the four-goal man became provider, cutting the ball back for Greening to side foot into the far corner.
The beleaguered visitors made a triple substitution, and Town took the opportunity to rest Hogg and Belt ahead of next week’s Vase challenge.
Tom Fleming walked a disciplinary tightrope for 70 minutes, knowing a yellow card would rule him out of Boxing Day’s derby against Scarborough, and despite Staveley’s efforts to wind him up, he made way for Ged Dalton without finding his way into the referee’s notebook.
The changes, and the increasing wind, meant the game lost something of its flow, and Staveley got a consolation when sub Joe Thornton was given room on the left hand side of the box and squeezed a shot past Wilberforce.
A fightback was never really on the cards but Ryan Damms raised the blood pressure around Queensgate a notch higher when he converted a penalty after Joe Danby was judged to have tripped Aymen Tahar.
Failure to keep a clean sheet was the only gripe after a clinical performance at the other end.
The afternoon may have started as a five-horse race for the title, but was it down to four contenders by 5pm? Wins for Scarborough, Tadcaster and Retford prove there is no room for error this season.