Masterstroke substitution conjures up Town winner

Cook celebrates his winning goal v Staveley
Cook celebrates his winning goal v Staveley

Bridlington Town 3

Staveley Miners Welfare 2

NCEL Premier Division

BRIDLINGTON Town produced their favourite party trick to keep up their 100% record in September.

They fought back from 2-0 down to see off one of their biggest title rivals - but it took a bold substitution from boss Mitch Cook to find a winner.

It was not the fact that he brought on son Nathan on the hour mark, with the score at 2-2, more who he chose to replace.

There were plenty of eyebrows raised when the number 10 appeared on the board at the dugout, as Cook hauled off in-form striker Carl Stewart, who had scored Town’s first goal of the afternoon, his 11th of the season.

It paid off, as within five minutes Cook Jnr had unleashed a 30-yard cracker which capped a fantastic comeback from the Seasiders.

Like on so many occasions last season, Town created a mountain of work for themselves with a dismal start.

After five minutes, the visitors were ahead. Andrew Cooper’s good work down the left allowed free-scoring Ryan Damms to spin and fire a low shot past Mark Wilberforce.

It was well deserved too as the Staveley had enjoyed good possession in the opening stages.

The same combination teamed up six minutes after the goal, but this time Damms scuffed his shot wide.

However, on 14 minutes, Welfare had doubled their advantage. Again the danger came from down the left, and from a similar position to where Damms opened the scoring, captain Jordan Eagers found the net.

Welfare, who had defeated Town late last season with a result that ultimately cost Bridlington top spot, were forcing the hosts into silly mistakes and were good value for their lead.

A change of tactics though helped the reds to find a little more composure. It was a surprise that Chris Batchelor had started at left back, with Eddie Cass at centre half and Tom Lee in midfield.

Once Cook had rotated them around and pushed Batchelor into midfield, things began to tick.

Stewart flashed a shot wide after good build up play by Ash Allanson and Scott Phillips, and then keeper Dan Tollerfield dived bravely at the feet of Craig Hogg.

But he had little chance on 26 minutes when Carl Stewart calmly curled the ball around him and inside the far corner.

Another extremely well-taken goal to add to his collection, and he was only denied a second four minutes later by a linesman’s flag.

But Staveley exploited Bridlington’s right flank again soon afterwards and should have added a third. Kyle Hawthorne, Welfare’s best player, crossed low, Damms dummied and Joe Thornton was staring into the whites of Wilberforce’s eyes but missed the target.

He was made to pay immediately, as Craig Hogg produced another wonderful finish, turning in the area and directing a finish into the top corner from 15 yards.

Wilberforce dived to his left to deny Thornton, and captain and goalscorer Eagers limped off, as a half of two halves drew to a close.

Town had the better of the chances at the start of the second period. Tollerfield pushed Batchelor’s low drive out for a corner and then Grant Allott deflected Tom Fleming’s cross which Tollerfield gathered under his own crossbar.

Then came the substitution which won the game. Nathan Cook, still not 100% fit after being clattered against Arnold two weeks ago, entered the fray and hit a piledriver which flew into the net.

Hogg could have eased Town nerves but passed up the sort of chance he would have scored with his eyes closed when on form and full of confidence.

He passed to Batchelor who galloped forward from the halfway line. With everyone expecting a pass to the left to the unmarked Phillips, Batchelor disguised a reverse ball to Hogg who tried to beat Tollerfield at his near post but only hit the side netting.

Phillips fired a fearsome volley just over the bar after persistent work by Cook before Hogg got his body shape all wrong as he tried to control another volley.

Cass and Chris Jenkinson were both booked as Staveley looked to press forward for an equaliser, but Town hit them on the counter-attack and only a bad pass by Billy Logan ended a move as team-mates were queuing up unmarked in the middle.

A sixth straight win for Town, who have now faced almost all of the teams you would expect to be title-challengers, except, of course, one.