Bridlington Town 1
Maltby Main 0
NCEL Premier Division
BRIDLINGTON Town pulled themselves clear at the top of the NCEL table, but they were pushed all the way by a young, spirited Maltby Main team.
Having won nine in a row, the Seasiders would have expected to beat the depleted South yorkshire side, but they were reliant on saves by stand-in keeper Paul Fraser to keep the game goalless.
Eventually, midfielder Chris Batchelor broke the deadlock with 18 minutes remaining, as chairman Peter Smurthwaite took over the role of manager for one day only.
Boss Mitch Cook was in London on business, and the players may have been thankful he was away and unable to deliver the half-time hairdryer treatment that a tame first-half display would no doubt have prompted.
Maltby may have been expected to roll over and let Town ease to their 10th straight win, but the visitors almost took an early lead. Chris Jenkinson misjudged a long ball and Lee Hill tried to lob Fraser but the keep showed good reflexes and got a slight touch to push the ball over the bar.
It was to be an afternoon of good goalkeeping, as Maltby’s 17-year-old stopper Anthony Thompson, who is on Rotherham United’s books, also impressed. The first of his notable saves was to deny Batchelor’s powerful 20-yard effort.
The teenager looked beaten from Craig Hogg’s thunderous shot but Daniel Reilly stuck out a boot and deflected the ball over the top.
Fraser saved from Craig Gladwin and Mark Stuart and only a last-ditch tackle by Jenkinson halted another Maltby attack as Town looked out of sorts.
Town were sent out five minutes early from their half-time break, but as in the first half, they needed a fine stop from Fraser to stop Maltby grabbing an early goal.
Mario Campagna’s shot from 30 yards was swerving and dipping, but the keeper dived to his left and stretched enough to tip the ball on to the bar.
Thompson matched his opposite number again - diving at the feet of Josh Greening after he latched on to a delicate through ball by Tom Fleming.
Then Wayne Aziz came to the fore, capitalising on Thompson’s only mistake of the afternoon as he beat him to Greening’s corner but his header thumped the crossbar.
Within minutes Aziz was back to his usual work, producing a great block to thwart Gladwin as Maltby streamed forward in numbers.
Fraser was called upon again, blocking Stuart’s attempt with his feet, but he was beaten shortly afterwards. Michael Cookson tapped into an empty net, but the whole of Queensgate was relieved to be on the right side of a borderline offside decision.
Perhaps that was what gave Town the kick up the backside they needed, because on 72 minutes Chris Batchelor flicked home Fleming’s left-wing cross.
From then on, the chances all went Bridlington’s way. Sub Scott Phillips’ overhead kick was bundled wide by Thompson at his near post, and Hogg did the hard work in beating his marker but then produced a weak finish.
Hogg then knew very little as the ball bounced up off his shins from a low corner and struck the bar, but by then, Town were safe.