Shameful scenes as crowd violence mars Town’s win

Chris Jenkinson v Athersley Rec
Chris Jenkinson v Athersley Rec

Violence off the field totally overshadowed proceedings on the pitch, as Bridlington Town stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games.

The Seasiders were made to battle for the three points, but it was the fighting on the terraces which this game will be remembered for.

Tempers had simmered all around the ground throughout the afternoon, but things boiled over when Athersley scored their second goal with four minutes remaining.

The visitors tried to retrieve the ball from the back of the net to restart the game quickly, and the usual playground scuffle seen so many times in that scenario broke out.

But it developed into something much more serious when Rec’s Jack Briscoe was sent off for stamping on Town’s Dean Craig.

As Briscoe headed off the pitch, he was struck by a spectator as he reached the tunnel and the violence escalated.

Both sets of fans became embroiled in the incident as things threatened to get out of hand. Then on the opposite side of the pitch, a confrontation occurred between Town fans and the Athersley bench.

Play was halted for several minutes by referee Matt McGrath, who is a police officer by day, before eventually restarting as the uneasy stand-off between the supporters continued in the stands.

The shameful scenes took the gloss of Town’s efforts on the pitch, which saw them pushed to the limit by an aggressive and niggly Rec side who they had beaten in the FA Vase earlier in the month.

The deadlock had been broken on the half-hour mark with an excellent goal, which sadly will get forgotten about.

A wonderful floated pass by Ash Allanson was volleyed home from a difficult angle by Craig Hogg.

By that stage Town could easily have found themselves behind, as Phil Dobson, who was excellent again in Town’s goal, had made two good saves in a matter of seconds to deny Jason Bentley and Craig Fletcher.

Having got their noses in front though, the hosts added to their tally on 37 minutes. James Bennett took advantage of a ricochet in the penalty area and beat the stranded Rec keeper Josh Herring, to notch his third goal of the week.

After the break, Dobson excelled again, when Athersley exploited room down Town’s right. Bentley’s dipping volley looked a goal all the way, but the slightest fingertip touch flicked it on to the crossbar.

When Joel Sutton ran on to Tom Fleming’s pass and confidently beat Herring with 15 minutes remaining, it looked like it was game over.

But three minutes later, Tom Bennett’s back header fell short and Bentley lobbed Dobson to reduce the arrears.

Fletcher’s 86th minute strike, after Dobson had blocked Kieran Scargill’s effort, sparked the violence on and off the pitch, and when the match resumed there was still time for Bentley to fire a free kick wide, after Dobson had clattered into Ryan White outside his area.