Saturday’s derby encounter between Scarborough Athletic and landlords Bridlington Town had all the ingredients that you require from this kind of match.
A mixture of goals, thrills, spills, thundering challenges and slick football were all thrown into the Queensgate melting pot to create a classic battle that was poised at 3-3 when the final curtain finally dropped.
It could have been a very different tale had Brid attacker Scott Phillips laced up his shooting boots before the game, but instead the result and the point were enough to keep Rudy Funk’s Boro clear at the top of the NCEL table.
The Match of the Day theme rang out around a sunny Queensgate ahead of the game and the tune proved to be very apt, as a packed crowd of 1,247 were treated to a real humdinger.
With Bryan Hughes absent, Boro brought Tommy Adams back into the middle of the park, while the returning Louis Horne was given the task, alongside Matty Plummer, of keeping the dangerous Brid attack at bay.
They struggled with that challenge in the opening minutes, a clear sign of things to come. Former Boro man Phillips almost took full advantage of Plummer’s early gaffe, but Arran Reid scampered from the goal and plucked the ball off his toe.
At the other end a Tony Hackworth challenge in the corner left Brid defender Wayne Aziz looking dazed and confused, he left the action soon after, but only following a quick-fire flurry of goals.
It was Boro who took the lead when Paddy Miller collected a Ryan Blott switched ball, the full-back took a touch and then crashed home a shot that swept under the outstretched arms of Mark Wilberforce.
Within seconds Brid were level, as another bout of buffoonery in the Boro defence allowed Josh Greening some space. He fed Chris Batchelor, who finished well past Reid.
Nathan Cook went close after Plummer trod on the ball, but Brid did seize the lead when the Boro backline vanished once again.
Batchelor threw off the shackles with a clever turn and he lofted a ball to the back post where Cook met it with an arrowed header.
Another blow on the head for Aziz spelt the end of his morning of football, as he was replaced by Billy Logan.
Things got worse for Brid very soon after a battering ram-style attack restored parity at 2-2.
Boro forced the Brid back-line back with some clever play that freed Plummer up to shoot. His effort was saved but Jimmy Beadle was there to nod home the rebound.
This was the last action of a fine half, though the new period wasn’t one to disappoint either.
Boro retook the lead when the energetic Tony Hackworth held off three players and laid the ball into the path of Blott. The striker’s first-time shot slid past Wilberforce to register his 35th league goal of the season.
Phillips could have levelled immediately, but he missed an open goal from all of four yards after more awful Boro defending.
Brid did equalise though and to add to the frustration, it came from another error at the back. Greening swept the ball off the foot of Miller and stroked is past a furious Reid to make it 3-3.
Phillips was presented with another guilt-edged opportunity when Logan whipped a ball across the face of the box. But instead of handing Brid the lead he bumbled it against the post from a few feet away.
At the other end, more fine approach play from Hackworth eased James Bennett into the box, the midfielder drilled in a low shot the Chris Jenkinson scooped off the Brid line.
Brid then lost their lynchpin midfielder Tom Fleming, who was given his marching orders for two clumsy tackles on Blott and Pete Davidson.
This was Davidson’s last act as he was replaced by David Brown as Boro looked to push on with the extra numbers.
It was Athletic keeper Reid who was plunged back into the action though, as he made an amazing diving save to push away Brid sub Craig Hogg’s volley.
Boro’s landlords were then stung by another blow when Frank Belt was forced out of the action. The defender dislocated his elbow when challenging Blott and he was later taken to hospital with the injury.
In the lengthy spell of added time after this hold-up, Robbie Hawkes was denied after a dancing run and Blott got the ball stuck under his foot when the Brid defence parted in front of him.
There could have been a decisive strike just before the ref’s final whistle, but Phillips gently lobbed a weak volley straight at Reid when he found some room in the box.
With Brighouse’s game against Hall Road frozen off, the result was enough to move Boro three points clear at the top, though the single point for Brid may all-but end their hopes of moving into the Evo-Stik divisions.