Bridlington Town 2 Long Eaton United 1
TAKE your pick - pretty, polished performances or precious points. Town fans may have to accept it is one or the other until the end of the season.
There was little to admire here from a Bridlington point of view, other than the fact they managed to keep themselves at the top of the pile.
A young Long Eaton side probably came with thoughts of damage limitation, but they acquitted themselves well.
And it could have been a different story if Frank Belt had not made a miraculous goalline clearance to prevent United taking the lead early in the first half.
In the end, the Seasiders, who were missing captain Tom Fleming, goalkeeper Mark Wilberforce and had the previous week’s man of the match Chris Jenkinson only fit enough for a place on the bench, scraped through thanks to Josh Greening’s header.
After a low-key opening the visitors should really have gone ahead on 11 minutes. An awkward long ball behind the Town defence tempted stand-in keeper Paul Fraser out of his area.
But it soon became obvious he would not get to the ball first and Will Mellors-Blair nipped in, as Fraser seemed resigned to trotting back and picking the ball out of his net.
All bar one of the 22 players expected to see the ball cross the line, the exception being Belt who raced back and cleared Mellors-Blair’s rolled shot just in time.
Fraser pulled off a decent save seconds later from Dominic Jones, and then collected a curling effort from Shaun Rickford after Town’s midfield got in a muddle.
A tame shot by Ash Allanson on 15 minutes was Brid’s first effort on target but it took until halfway through the first half for them to look like scoring, when Greening volleyed over after good work by Stuart Rice, who was making a good impression in midfield.
Town were guilty of being too intricate in the final third, and there was a desperate lack of width, but they got a helping hand on 35 minutes. Greening’s right-wing corner was flicked on by Hogg, and defender Kial Thurman, possibly fearing an attacker was behind him, stuck out a leg and diverted the ball into his own net.
Rice shanked a shot wide, and keeper Scott Webb denied Hogg at his near post, and then on the stroke of half time at the other end, Fraser produced an excellent save to keep out Matt Weightman’s thumping shot after Rickford’s flick on.
The start of the second half saw a flurry of activity around Town’s goal. Weightman hit the angle of post and crossbar, Fraser made a great save to keep out a follow-up effort and then got a whack on the head as he bravely dived at the feet of Rickford.
Jones should have done better when a push on Frank Belt went unpunished and he was given the chance to finish the resulting move, but he dragged a shot wide of the far post.
A glorious pass from Allanson let Billy Logan plough his way down the right of the penalty area. His low cross just needed a tap in but James Bennett, who quite simply has not been the same player since returning from North Ferriby, missed the target with the goal gaping.
And on 67 minutes, the visitors were level. Dominic Jones bundled home at the back post after a long throw-in by Michael Armstrong.
Town almost snatched the lead back immediately. Hogg chipped Webb from 30 yards but the ball bounced back off the post.
Suddenly, the hosts were shocked into life. Greening made inroads down the left and Rice was only inches away from connecting with his cross.
Then Webb pushed away a scuffed shot by Hogg, but the breakthrough came from the resulting corner. Allanson delivered a pinpoint cross and Josh Greening, hardly noted for his heading ability, was afforded far too much space six yards out and nodded into the corner.
Another Allanson corner from the right saw Logan get in a header which Webb saved and moments later he blasted over the bar, when he could have killed off any lingering fears of points being dropped.
Eight more wins will bring the title to Queensgate.
It doesn’t matter if the eight wins are as ugly as this.