MARTIN DOWEY’S Column - The return of Bernard can lift Boro

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IT may have been a dour week of action on the national scene, but locally there has been a good deal going on.

I had the chance to catch up with a few familar faces from Scarborough FC at Scarborough Town’s sportsman’s dinner, though towards the end of the night I can’t remember what was said.

The new crop of Scarborough League representative players took to Queensgate for a friendly clash against Bridlington Town, and I am looking forward to heading over to Bootham Crescent later this month to see how they get on against their York-based rivals.

Quite a few of these players will be facing off on Sunday when Trafalgar and Newlands go head to head to be the town’s representative in the final of the North Riding FA Sunday Challenge Cup.

But being the Evening News’ Scarborough Athletic’s officianado, I was given a treat in the early part of this week.

No, it definitely wasn’t the return to work of Daniel Gregory from holiday, it was the news that Boro had re-signed striker Curtis Bernard (pictured right scoring against Selby).

For me, Saturday November 26 proved to be a big day in Boro’s season because that 4-1 success at Armthorpe’s Church Street was Bernard’s final game of a fine stint with the club.

He hit a hat-trick on that day to take his tally to 17 in 17 starts, but then decided to make the switch up a couple of levels to Evo-Stik Premier side Bradford Park Avenue.

At that point Boro were poised on the shoulders of the NCEL Premier’s leaders like Steve Ovett just before he wound up for a sprint finish.

Bernard’s departure sparked a hefty down-turn in form. Boro did beat Tadcaster in their next game, but a collection of indifferent results followed and they dropped off the pace.

Fellow striker Ryan Blott had the cloud of a heavy ban hanging over his head and with the top-scorer gone, the whole situation wasn’t ideal.

The whole thing seemed to wobble Boro against the ropes and it wasn’t helped by the fact that they faced Brid twice and a Barton team filled with eager ex-Athletic players on two occasions.

Finally things gradually began to recover. Blott was cleared of his misdemeanors, the poaching Adam Lee signed from Armthorpe and Tony Hackworth was released from defensive duties to slot in behind the front two.

This trio worked a treat on Saturday, as they tore Maltby to pieces after the half-time oranges.

I do still think though that if Bernard had stayed and not switched to Bradford for 10 games then Boro would have gone up.

Paul Scholes recently said that the only way Manchester United will win the league is if they win each of their remaining 12 games.

The same can be said about Boro, as they won’t stand a chance of catching the top few unless they take 30 points from the last 10 games.

Maybe Curtis’ arrival is too little too late, but the final matches of the season are going to be ram-packed with attacking excitement.

Rudy Funk has said that he is considering playing three up top and if you slot Hackworth in behind then you do have a recipie for goals.

Boro were handed a confidence-boosting win on Saturday and that morale could now be sky-high after Bernard’s return.

The consistency has been lacking all season, but they are in no better place now to put that final charge together.