Last-minute equaliser frustrates The Seasiders

Bridlington Town v Glasshoughton Welfare
Bridlington Town v Glasshoughton Welfare

Bridlington Town 1

Glasshoughton Welfare 1

A BAD week for Bridlington Town got worse as they conceded a last minute equaliser to drop two important points in the NCEL title race.

Having seen leaders Scarborough Athletic take full advantage of The Seasiders’ postponement at Tadcaster, Town then had to deal with the departure of 24-goal leading scorer Carl Stewart.

Bridlington Town v Glasshoughton Welfare

Bridlington Town v Glasshoughton Welfare

But there was another sting in the tale, as mid-table Glasshoughton forced a late leveller just as it looked Town had managed to grab the three points despite a below-par performance.

With Stewart making a goal-scoring debut for Ossett Town, and skipper Tom Fleming and defender Chris Jenkinson both suspended, the line-up looked a little depleted. Aaron Allanson returned to the club and took a place on the bench alongside teenager Sam Hanson and new signing Ben Silburn, who had been drafted in from Hall Road Rangers.

Silburn got a chance to impress earlier than expected, as he replaced Craig Palmer after only 27 minutes, and the diminutive striker looked lively without ever having a decent chance to open his account.

In fact, this was probably the poorest game at Queensgate so far thisseason. Town were out of sorts and lacking imagination, while Glasshoughton were clearly a different proposition from the team who started so badly.

They had come for a point though, and kept nine men behind the ball for long periods of the second half. But their stifling tactics meant Bridlington could only muster Scott Phillips’ 73rd minute goal, and there was always a chance they could nick something at the end. And, of course, they did.

A lifeless opening 20 minutes saw little goalmouth action. Burly Welfare striker Robert Pell saw his low 20-yard shot head straight at Mark Wilberforce and Craig Hogg’s long range volley dipped wide of the far post.

Josh Greening finally forced a save from Glasshoughton’s debutant keeper Adam Mitchell, who was sporting an awful combination of a lime green shirt and bright orange shorts.

Both teams asked questions of referee Keith Lawson. Firstly, the hosts looked his way when Greening fell under James Beaston’s challenge but the penalty appeals were half-hearted. Then, Welfare wondered if a yellow card was sufficient punishment for Craig Palmer when he lost a race against Matthew Holgate.

The attacker was probably too far wide for it to be deemed a clear goalscoring opportunity, and Palmer left the action moments later anyway with a thigh injury.

Ash Allanson’s rising shot just cleared the crossbar but it took 39 minutes for Town to engineer a real chance. Greening got to the byline on the right but Phillips’ effort was saved by Mitchell at his near post.

Phillips was closest for Bridlington after the break too, curling a shot wide of the far post after Frank Belt broke forward into the penalty area and then seeing Mitchell beat away another attempt.

With Welfare getting more defensive by the minute, all of a sudden they had a golden chance to break the dealock. A bad tackle by Pell on Allanson went unpunished and the advantage only resulted in Russell Headley running half the length of the pitch unopposed, but missing the target with only Wilberforce to beat.

Having been let off, Brid responded but Belt and Hogg both shot wide when they should have done better. Hogg’s side-footed volley from eight yards in particular was one the home team would be left to rue.

Finally, with 17 minutes left, the Seasiders looked like they had got out of jail. Greening’s shot looped over the bar after hitting Craig Maynard’s head and from the resulting corner, the ball was worked to Chris Batchelor on the edge of the area.

He unleashed a swerving shot which was headed off the line but Scott Phillips pounced to fire in from inside the six-yard box.

It forced Glasshoughton to adopt a more attacking approach. Wilberforce foiled sub Thomas Woollard after confusion in the Town defence, then he got the merest touch to Matthew Stirland’s wonderful effort to tip it on to the crossbar.

Finally, the sucker punch was landed. Into the 90th minute, Stirland’s ball sought out Pell, and although Belt got a good tackle in, the ball was returned to the centre and sub Thomas Woollard fired a shot high into the net.

Pessimists believe that is game over in the title race, optimists will point out Town are only five points behind Scarborough with a game in hand.

The truth is, with Athletic in the type of form which means they can score five at the team in fourth place, it is their’s to lose now.