Bridlington Town 4
NCEL Premier Division
CARL Stewart bagged his second hat-trick of the season as Town ended 2012 on a high.
But Town were grateful for a couple of decisions going their way to make life a little easier against The Steelmen.
The hosts forced two early corners, which saw Ash Allanson’s shot deflected wide and then a speculative volley by the same player clear the bar.
At the other end, Wayne Aziz produced a a fine block to deny Sam Smith after he had been sent through by David Cockerill.
In a fairly bland opening quarter, Chris Batchelor hit an effort over the bar from 25 yards and Scott Phillips’ shot was blocked by keeper Robert Poulter’s feet after a defence-splitting pass by Josh Greening.
Parkgate looked a shadow of the side which had won 5-2 at Queensgate last season and it was no surprise when they fell behind on 20 minutes.
Batchelor released Phillips on the left-hand side and he wedged a cross over the keeper for Carl Stewart to tap in unmarked from a few feet out. A well-worked goal in the conditions.
Batchelor should have added a second moments later but lashed over when Poulter could only parry Stewart’s fierce drive.
It took 26 minutes for Parkgate to muster their first shot on target. A right-wing corner was only half-cleared and Craig Fletcher showed neat footwork to trick past two defenders on the edge of the area, but he could only lift a shot into the arms of Mark Wilberforce.
The Steelmen had real grounds for complaint two minutes later. Craig Palmer, restored to defence after Chris Jenkinson had picked up a nasty injury in the Boxing Day defeat by Scarborough Athletic, should really have been heading for an early bath.
His backpass was short and he pulled back Fletcher as he tried to beat Wilberforce to the ball.
The linesman immediately flagged, but referee Stephen Wade opted to show a yellow card, indicating other defenders were around.
They weren’t. It was a poor decision and potentially it was the turning point of the game.
Both teams battled hard on an increasingly heavy pitch. Fletcher forced a good low save from Wilberforce and then Frank Belt tried an ambitious effort from on the touchline with the keeper racing back to make his ground from outside his area.
Tom Fleming hit a powerful drive straight at Poulter but 10 minutes before half-time Parkgate should have levelled. The ball fell to Chris Telling just a few yards out but he stabbed his shot against a Town defender, when anything on target would have hit the net.
Then two minutes into injury time, Town were awarded a penalty when Phillips was tugged by Fletcher as he surged into the penalty box.
Their record from the spot has been pretty dismal this season, but Phillips found the corner comfortably to ensure the referee endured an ear-bashing from the Parkgate management as he headed to the dressing rooms at the break.
However, after a couple of early second half substitutions, the visitors earned a penalty of their own on 53 minutes. Smith was bundled off the ball by Palmer, who stood by the spot waiting to receive his inevitable fate. A second yellow or a straight red card seemed to be the only question but instead, Wade decided the penalty was punishment enough, and David Cockerill thumped the spot kick past Wilberforce.
However, their hopes of a comeback died two minutes later as Stewart got his second, side-footing home after an assist by Phillips.
Palmer finally left the field, subbed rather than sent off, before Stewart, having missed a simple chance to complete his hat-trick earlier, got his hands on the match ball on 74 minutes.
Greening picked the ball up on the edge of his own area, carried it to the halfway line and then released Stewart on the right wing and after dummying a cross, he smacked a shot through the keeper’s legs.
Phillips ought to have added a fifth late on, Wilberforce denied sub Martyn Lee and Smith struck the base of the post as the last 10 minutes threw up a host of chances at both ends.