Seasiders beat leaders to keep title race alive

Bridlington's Nicky McNamara v Cleethorpes Town
Bridlington's Nicky McNamara v Cleethorpes Town

In a keenly contested top-of-the-table clash Bridlington Town inflicted only the second league defeat of the season on title favourites Cleethorpes Town.

The hosts took the lead in the first half with a deflected goal and missed with a penalty before going further in front on the hour mark.

Bridlington's Jack Walters v Cleethorpes Town

Bridlington's Jack Walters v Cleethorpes Town

They survived a late onslaught after being reduced to 10 men for the last 15 minutes defending with grit and determination to hold out for the three points and secure a sixth clean sheet from the last eight games.

The Seasiders set their stall out not to concede early on and Cleethorpes went on the offensive forcing two saves from James Hitchcock, whose handling throughout the match was faultless.

Bridlington had a couple of attempts at goal themselves before they went in front but Nick McNamara completely missed the target and Cleethorpes goalkeeper Liam Higton safely gathered a Jack Walters free kick.

In the 15th minute, Joel Sutton got free on the right and was pulled back by Liam Dickens who received a yellow card for the tug.

Brett Agnew congratulates Nicky McNamara on his goal v Cleethorpes Town

Brett Agnew congratulates Nicky McNamara on his goal v Cleethorpes Town

The resultant free kick fell for McNamara to score his fifth league goal in 10 appearances with his effort taking a deflection that deceived Higton and went past him into the net.

Neither side held back as they strove to clinch the points and there were clearances off the line at both ends while Hitchcock left his goal twice to clear when the Owls threatened.

With the game getting intense, there were further cautions issued to defenders Peter Winn of Cleethorpes and Bridlington’s Alex Knaggs before half time.

At the start of the second half Bridlington’s makeshift defender Tim Taylor carried the ball from defence and cut in before sending a left-foot attempt wide of the post from 20 yards.

Then four minutes in, the hosts had a golden opportunity to increase their lead.

Walters’ ball forward to Will Waudby enabled the winger to get into the penalty area where Matthew Kingston brought him down and became the third visiting player to be booked.

Brett Agnew had missed from the spot in the last home game so Sutton assumed responsibility only to see Higton save both his kick and the follow-up while Agnew put the loose ball over the bar with the third attempt.

Four minutes later Kingston was withdrawn in favour of Jonathan Oglesby and the Cleethorpes substitute marked his arrival with a swerving shot that just cleared Hitchcock’s crossbar.

Sutton made up for his penalty miss in the 60th minute when he volleyed home from Waudby’s left wing cross and he almost added another but his attempt went inches the wrong side of the post.

Cleethorpes made another change before the home side went down to 10 men in the 76th minute when skipper Tom Fleming was shown a second yellow card to follow one he earned 20 minutes earlier.

Within three minutes two more bookings followed, one for either side, then the Owls lay siege as Bridlington dropped deeper.

The visitors appeared to have pulled one back when a fierce drive was heading for the top corner but Hitchcock somehow got his fingertips to the ball to divert it on to the crossbar then claimed the rebound.

Substitute Harry Fox intercepted the ball in the visitors half to create an opening for Agnew but once again the ball shaved the outside of a post and as the game entered five extra minutes, Hitchcock was called on to make another save as the Seasiders held on for a memorable win.