BRID TOWN: Bumper crowd enjoys a thrilling derby clash

Nathan Cook scores v Boro Athletic
Nathan Cook scores v Boro Athletic

Rarely do the most eagerly-anticipated games live up to the hype, but this delivered everything that had been expected of it and more.

Rarely do the most eagerly-anticipated games live up to the hype, but this delivered everything that had been expected of it and more.

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

A bumper crowd saw six goals, a red card and, sadly, and ambulance at the side of the pitch, as the rivals put on a pulsating show which was possibly the most entertaining clash between the two clubs since their battles began.

And no-one could argue a draw wasn’t a fair result, with the pendulum swinging back and forth over the 90 minutes.

Boro struck at crucial times, notably deep into injury time at the end of the first half and again soon after the break, but Town matched them throughout, even when they went down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes.

The hosts almost enjoyed the perfect start when Matty Plummer slipped and keeper Aaron Reid to be alert to whip the ball off Scott Phillips’ toes.

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

Bridlington Town v Scarborough Athletic

At the other end, Boro had a reasonable penalty appeal for handball against Nathan Cook waved away and it was 10 minutes before there was a shot on target, as Frank Belt’s low free kick was comfortably gathered by Reid.

The first of Town’s headaches arrived quite literally minutes later. Tony Hackworth pushed Wayne Aziz in the back near the touchline and as the defender fell, the former Leeds United player’s knee struck him accidentally in the back of the head. Aziz carried on for another 20 minutes after lengthy treatment but his vision had been affected and he had to depart after suffering dizzy spells.

During that time, Athletic took the lead. Left-back Paddy Miller remained on the right flank after his corner had been cleared and after the ball was intelligently swept back out to him, Brid’s defence stood off him and invited him to plant a swerving 25-yard shot into the bottom corner of Mark Wilberforce’s net. The keeper may wonder if he should have done better, although Miller should have been closed down quicker.

The lead only lasted a minute, Ash Allanson and Josh Greening combined and an unmarked Chris Batchelor rounded off the move with a confident low finish from the edge of the area.

After Boro had looked the more threatening before the goals, it was now Brid’s turn to take control. Phillips just failed to get a shot away after wriggling past two defenders and Cook fired over the bar after doing well to steal the ball 25 yards out.

A perfectly-timed tackle by Plummer denied Phillips but the landlords took the lead on 35 minutes with the goal of the game. Batchelor’s clever turn as he received a throw in gave him the room to float in a lovely cross from the left and Cook didn’t have to break stride as he met it with a flying header from 15 yards which Reid was never going to reach.

Aziz departed soon afterwards after Boro had tried to match Brid’s immediate response to going behind, but long-range attempts by Hackworth and Ryan Blott were off target.

Peter Davidson was booked for a foul on Phillips, but in the fourth minute of stoppage time the scores were level again. Plummer ventured forwards and his shot was parried by Wilberforce but Jimmy Beadle reacted quickest to nod the rebound home with the last touch of the half.

Tom Adams had laid on the ground for over a minute, but Scarborough chose not to put the ball out and their decision earned its reward.

If that late goal had stunned the hosts, it got worse three minutes into the second half. Hackworth out-muscled Tom Lee to a long ball and with Wilberforce poorly positioned off his line, the ball was fed to Blott who was never likely to miss, despite the angle facing him. It was another poor goal to concede.

But Town did not wilt and almost repeated their first half trick. Cook broke through an offside trap and unselfishly squared to Phillips. A bobble took his first touch away from goal, and his shot ended up hitting the side netting, but it looked easier to score.

Fleming picked up what would prove to be a costly booking on 54 minutes for a foul on Belt but two minutes later Brid equalised. Greening flicked the ball over a defender and confidently beat the advancing Reid. At that stage it seemed unthinkable that it would be the last goal of the game.

After an hour of non-stop action, there was bound to be a lull and the game took a breather for 10 minutes as both bosses plotted a way of finding a winner.

Phillips should have grabbed it when Billy Logan’s deep cross evaded everyone but it caught the striker by surprise and he could only bundle the ball against the post from two yards.

The James Bennett was agonisingly close to scoring against his old club. A good move down the Scarborough left ended with his shot being cleared off the line by Chris Jenkinson, who had an excellent game against his old team-mates.

Bridlington had to play the final 10 minutes with 10 men after captain Fleming received his second yellow card for a high challenge on Davidson, which was more over-enthusiastic than dangerous, but warranted a booking.

Despite the disadvantage, Town almost won the points. Phillips saw a shot block and sub Craig Hogg fired in a volley which Reid repelled with a great reaction save.

An innocuous-looking tackle by Belt by the corner flag resulted in a serious injury to the defender. Players around him immediately recognised he was in severe discomfort and the game was stopped for several minutes while an ambulance was called.

He was moved off the pitch to wait for paramedics, and suffered a dislocated elbow, which required a trip to Scarborough Hospital.

Aaron Allanson replaced him and had an immediate impact. When the game restarted with a Boro corner, Allanson cleared off the line with his first touch.

In the dying stages, Wilberforce saved easily from Robbie Hawkes, and then Town had a glorious chance at the death, but it just about summed up Phillips’ day, as he scooped a bouncing ball straight into Reid’s grateful arms from four yards.

It was a thrilling game, but the result definitely suited Boro more than Brid, who can still officially take top spot but who realistically know the title is now beyond them.

If Athletic do go on and achieve their dream of promotion, it will be a shame if this rivalry has to take a break, but this will be a wonderful way to end the East Coast battles for the time being.