Bridlington Town 2
Brighouse Town 1
NCEL Premier Division
COULD Bridlington enjoy a perfect September?
Their mission for the month is to collect a maximum of 24 points during the month and they are more than halfway there.
A fifth straight win in 18 days has propelled The Seasiders above their visitors into third place in the NCEL table, just a point behind pace-setters Worksop Parramore.
Chris Batchelor marked his first start in a Town shirt with the winning goal, a free-kick midway through the second half, while Carl Stewart took revenge against the only team who had managed to stop him scoring in his first six games for Bridlington
It was a real battle, with Town missing a host of chances, and leaving themselves vulnerable to a late sucker-punch.
Brighouse enjoyed good early possession and home keeper Paul Fraser saved an early low effort from Tom Matthews.
Stewart should have given Town the lead on three minutes with the type of chance he has made the most of in recent weeks. Billy Logan’s long pass sailed over the visitors’ defence and Stewart chested the ball down but blazed over.
Fraser smartly punched away James Hurtley’s header from a right wing corner, while at the other end Craig Hogg spurned a good chance after more probing work by Logan.
A powerful 30-yard effort by Luke Gibson was helped over the bar by Brid’s stand-in keeper as the teams continued to trade blows, and in an end-to-end opening half hour Adam Wilton was quick to block Stewart’s shot, after the front man chased Hogg’s flick. From the resulting corner Ash Allanson shot over the bar from outside the box.
A series of fouls disrupted the flow of the game for a while but as the half progressed Bridlington carved out the better chances. The busy Stewart pounced on a mistake by James Sutcliffe but was driven wide by keeper Tom Taylor. His chip beat the keeper but Ben Thornton was on hand to clear inside the six-yard box.
Carl Stewart was not to be denied for long, and on 36 minutes he produced a tremendous header from Allanson’s cross which looped over Taylor from 18 yards out.
Injuries forced both sides to make changes immediately afterwards, with Scott Phillips replacing Wayne Aziz for the hosts.
Bridlington could have doubled their lead, but Taylor blocked with his feet at his near post to deny Stewart, and in the final minute of the half Brighouse levelled. Matthews turned the ball back to Ernest Boafa and although Fraser got a hand to his low effort, he could not keep it out.
Quality-wise, the second half did not meet the first, but it was still an enthralling contest.
Stewart should have grabbed his second, but a bobble meant he couldn’t beat Taylor from six yards, and was left hobbling as a result. Then, Phillips’ side-footed wide, not realising he had time on his side.
Hurtley netted for Brighouse, but was ruled offside, and then Tom Fleming and Stewart were booked by referee Mark Dwyer. Seen by many as the man who cost Town the title last season after his performance with the whistle in the game at Staveley, the official was about as welcome at Queensgate as a paparazzi photographer at a Royal holiday.
But seconds later he gave Town the free kick which led to the winning goal. Brighouse captain Greg Porter was yellow carded for flattening Josh Greening on the corner of the area, and Chris Batchelor, who had filled in at left back for the second half, caught Taylor out at his near post, clipping the free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.
The keeper should have saved it, the fact Batchelor had chosen to go for goal instead of crossing was hardly a surprise.
A good Fraser punch from a wicked cross-shot was the catalyst for a quick breakaway which ended with Phillips one-on-one with the keeper but he tried to dink his effort instead of blasting it and Taylor saved.
Hogg then sliced horribly wide as chances to kill the game off were going begging, and although Brighouse were more subdued after the break, they were always in with a chance of a point at the very least.
The ever-improving Eddie Cass made a great last-ditch clearance after his team-mates dithered in defence and then came a big let-off. Fraser called for a cross, didn’t get there and the ball bounced off Hurtley’s arm and trickled past the post.
The visitors went closer still, Matthews’ close range header from a free kick on the touchline brushed the base of the woodwork and in injury time, he blasted a chance over the bar after Leon Henry, one of the best players on the pitch, had raced 60 yards down the left flank.
It was a nervy last few minutes and Brighouse felt there was a handball in the Bridlington area in the final few seconds. But Bridlington’s super September keeps gathering pace.
Eight wins from eight really would lay down a marker and it is not out of the question.
Town: Fraser, Aziz (Phillips 38), Cass, Allanson, Jenkinson, Batchelor, Logan, Fleming (c), Hogg, Stewart (Barber 88), Greening.