Red cards but no red faces as Town hold on
Up against nine men for more than half-an-hour, most of their injured and suspended players back in action - this really should have been much easier than it proved for Bridlington Town.
The Seasiders were already 2-1 up by the time Liversedge were shown their second red card of the afternoon.
They had been helped by an own goal and had seen the visitors’ first choice goalkeeper leave the field at half-time because of an injury.
But still they left supporters in doubt as to whether they would hold on to all three points up until the final whistle.
Liversedge’s afternoon eventually went from bad to worse, but they made a dream start at Queensgate.
A long ball was flicked on and Joe Walton found himself one-on-one with James Hitchcock.
The striker, a converted centre-half, showed quick feet to take the ball around the keeper, who tripped him and prevented a certain goal.
Middlesbrough-based referee Michael Gillespie had no option but to award a penalty, but his decision not to add a yellow card to the punishment was surprising.
Stephen Wales hammered the ball past Hitchcock’s right hand and into the corner of the net and Liversedge had an early lead.
Town were almost gifted an equaliser when Tom Jackson ducked out of a header to allow the ball to run back to his keeper Samuel Andrews, but Jake Day got in first and squared to Brett Agnew, but his goalbound effort was blocked by Simon Wood.
Day and Agnew were playing as a strike pairing for the first time, with Joel Sutton operating as a left winger, and Sutton could have levelled when Louis Kirk sent him cleared, but he scuffed a shot at Andrews’ feet.
Chris Jenkinson headed the resulting corner over the bar, but Town did not have to wait much longer for a goal.
Liversedge were on the attack, but Hitchcock gathered and sent a long kick to Sutton on the halfway line.
His control was immaculate and he hit a pinpoint pass to Andy Norfolk on the opposite flank. Norfolk beat a defender and his low cross was turned in at the back post by Kirk, who had covered the length of the pitch to finish off the move.
Bridlington thought they had a penalty soon afterwards when skipper Tom Fleming was tripped, but the referee decided the foul was just outside the area and gave a free kick.
Andrews was just about able to push away Sutton’s attempt as it was creeping inside the post.
On 25 minutes, the Seasiders had the lead.
Good work by Agnew on the right saw him find Sutton and his long-range shot took a huge deflection off the head of Joe Wilkinson and wrong-footed the Liversedge keeper.
Wilkinson was booked soon afterwards for a string of fouls and the chances kept coming for the hosts.
Another corner saw Day head wide from close-range.
Town were looking in control and unlucky to only be one in front when Liversedge’s task got much harder.
A high and dangerous tackle by 18-goal striker Vaughan Redford left Norfolk on the deck and Gillespie moved quickly to show a straight red card and diffuse the situation.
But tempers were running high. keeper Andrews had already injured himself when he tried to beat Agnew to a high ball, and when Day clattered into him, it made matters worse.
Day was booked and Andrews was replaced by James Waggett at the interval.
Fleming also received a yellow card as the frantic first half reached its conclusion.
Kirk tested out the replacement man between the sticks but found Waggett equal to his low shot, and Liversedge’s turbulent afternoon got worse.
Wales was impeded as he ran at the Bridlington defence but the official waved play on. The winger then asked if there was ‘any chance of a free kick’ but threw in a couple of F-words for the whole ground to hear.
Unimpressed, referee Gillespie stopped the game and looked set to book the Liversedge number 11. But when he refused to turn and face the official to see his punishment, despite being told to several times, the man in the middle swapped his planned yellow card for a red one.
It should have been plain sailing for Town as they looked for their 10th home league win of the season, but they laboured against nine men.
Unable to move the ball quickly enough, or keep possession cleverly enough, they couldn’t find a way to score a third goal that would have killed off any lingering doubt.
Liversedge were tiring but Walton still looked a threat and there was a feeling that there might be a sting in the tail.
Curtis Woodhouse brought on Jordan Harrison to bring some pace to Brid’s play and his first touch was a stinging shot that Waggett did well to push away.
Will Waudby was added to the referee’s notebook and Hitchcock had to gather Cody Cromack’s free kick well as the visitors proved the outcome was still in the balance.
Finally, Town kept possession well in the opposition half but Sutton’s smart turn was not matched by his finish, which was dragged wide.
Agnew then failed to hit the target after he engineered space for himself, and Waggett denied Sutton as the Seasiders tried to walk in a third goal.
Tim Taylor, who did well at right back, then took responsibility to create something himself, striding forwards and rolling a left-foot shot which somehow hit the inside of the post and rolled along the goalline and stayed out.
○Town’s next game is an East Riding Senior Cup quarter final against Dunnington on Saturday.
The Seasiders are the current holders and their opponents are currently fifth in the York League, with 11 wins from 18 games.
Kick off is at the earlier time of 2pm and admission has been reduced to £4 and £2.
Bridlington’s next league game is at home to struggling Harrogate Railway Athletic on Valentine’s Day.
Town won the reverse fixture 3-1 in what prved to be Gary Allanson’s last game in charge.
Kick off is at 7.45pm.