Bridlington Town 2
Barton Town Old Boys 3
THE magic of the FA Cup? Bridlington’s only trick was to make their hopes disappear into thin air. And a lot of people are baffled as to how they managed it.
The Seasiders had 50 minutes to conjure up a winner against 10 men, but Barton created the illusion that it was they who had the advantage.
It was no surprise when they converted a 90th minute penalty and, abracadabra, they had pulled off an escape Houdini would have been proud of.
Ash Allanson, head and shoulders above anyone else in red, and keeper Paul Fraser, who also emerged with credit, stormed off at full-time, kicking doors in frustration rather than shaking hands with opponents who fully deserved their crack at Scarbrough Athletic in the next round.
Bridlington got off to the worst possible start against the Old Boys, and it was a Town old boy who did the damage. A free kick was lifted into the penalty area, Ash Dexter rose highest and his header dropped in at the far post with just two minutes on the clock.
Allanson led the reply, first shooting from long-range and drawing an excellent save from another ex-Seasider David Bramley, then providing an assist for an equaliser.
His right wing corner was returned to him, and his second attempt at a cross was met by Wayne Aziz. The full back’s initial header was well saved by Bramley, but he was able to nod the rebound in from a matter of feet.
The hosts seemed to be finding their passing game after a shaky start and Nathan Cook missed a presentable chance before Craig Hogg arrowed a shot from 40 yards which caught Bramley off guard and missed only by a whisker.
Greening showed a turn of pace down the right but Hogg took a touch too many before trying to get his shot away, but Brid seemed to be clicking into gear.
Allanson again tested Bramley with a clever curling lob, before the keeper made a brave block at Ged Dalton’s feet.
Then came the first big decision of the night by referee Matthew Dicicco. He pointed to the spot after a push in the Brid area. The home players surrounded him and then watched as former Scarborough Athletic man Richard Medcalf stepped up.
But Fraser dived to his right and blocked the weak penalty with his legs.
Buoyed by the let-off, Brid attacked again. Dalton weaved inside from the left but his shot was not powerful enough to trouble Bramley, then Hogg dinked the ball past the keeper but saw his effort bounce back off the post.
Next came what should have been the game’s turning point as Matty Oswin was shown a straight red card for a foul on Aziz near the centre circle on 42 minutes.
At the break it seemed a formality that Brid would set up a money-spinning tie against old foes Scarborough, but Barton had not read the script.
Just three minutes into the second half, the 10 men were ahead. Gareth Barlow was given half of Queensgate to run into, then he showed he had the X factor by keeping his cool and beating Fraser, via the post. Awful defending but a calm finish.
To hold on for 42 minues would require heroes in defence, and Bramley continued his defiance by saving a thumping Nathan Cook effort at the foot of his post.
An offside flag stopped Town’s defence from being sliced open far too easily again and on 55 minutes came the game’s moment of real quality.
Ash Allanson chested the ball down 10 yards out and executed a textbook overhead kick which flew past Bramley. A difficult skill performed with magnificent control.
Robbie Hawkes, another ex-Pickering recruit, came on to make his debut, replacing the ineffective Dalton, but the minutes passed by with Town showing little sign of breaking down a determined defence.
Rarely has Tom Fleming had such little influence on a game, Hogg barely had a sniff of goal after the interval and Greening’s first-half promise had vanished. Eventually, he made way for Billy Logan.
But whatever changes were made, it was Brid’s defence that looked the most vulnerable. Sub Rob Northen broke he offside trap and bore down on goal like Barlow had 30 minutes earlier. But he chose to try to round Fraser, and the keeper tipped the ball away.
A very good piece of goalkeeping and he was called upon again minutes later to make a save at his near post.
You would have expected Barton to be playing for extra time and penalties but they were the ones looking the likely winners.
It wasn’t without stress though and manager Dave Anderson was sent off for something he shouted at referee Dicicco. Tempers had been simmering throughout and Tom Lee and the niggly Liam Davis were both cautioned after grappling.
Town simply could not create a clear-cut chance, and resisted throwing Craig Palmer up front, even though Barton were only playing one striker by this stage.
Then came the final act, which had an air of inevitability about it. Barton broke quickly, Rob Northen ran from the halfway line, lured Danny Brunton into a foul, and watched Dicicco point to the spot again.
He picked himself up and squeezed his penalty past Fraser’s left hand, earned a yellow card for his celebrations, and Brid’s shaky start to the season had suddenly become a whole lot worse.
Barton have only taken one point from nine in the league so far, and that was courtesy of a last minute equaliser.
The magic of the FA Cup? As Paul Daniels says ‘you’ll like this, not a lot’.