VINTAGE it certainly was not, but Scarborough Athletic’s 1-0 win at Nostell Miners Welfare on Saturday could yet prove to be crucial.
With NCE premier division promotion rivals Bridlington Town dropping points, Boro’s victory, courtesy of Ryan Blott’s second-half penalty, saw them make some ground at the top of the table.
Boro did not begin the game well. The first 30 minutes was a mixture of aimless long balls and misplaced passes and the home side certainly settled the quicker.
Nostell created the game’s first two meaningful chances, Brandon Kane making progress down the left before forcing Kevin Martin into a great block at a near post in the 12th minute.
Sixty seconds later, Kane was at it again, rising well but heading over Martin’s bar from just six yards out.
That was about as exciting as the opening half-hour of the game got until Boro eventually began to come to life.
Ryan Blott capitalised on some defensive hesitancy in the 32nd minute and whipped in a good low cross from the left but the ball was cleared with Adam Lee loitering with intent at the back post.
Boro began to enjoy some more sustained possession but still lacked anything resembling a final ball.
They did go close again five minutes before the break when Blott’s free-kick from the edge of the box flashed narrowly wide of Sam Dobbs’ post, with the Nostell stopper motionless.
Five minutes later, Funk’s men, finally out of first gear, created a flurry of chances after Bill Law nodded the ball into the path of Blott on the right hand side of the Nostell box.
Blott scampered towards the byline and hit an effort across goal that a diving Dobbs parried.
Jimmy Ghaichem got on the end of the loose ball but saw one effort blocked by Dobbs, before a second was cleared off the line.
Boro retained the ball and worked it to Law, 20 yards out, but he dragged his effort well wide and that was the end of the first-half action.
Boro’s start to the second period was in total contrast to the way that they began the first.
Playing at a much better tempo, the away side kept the ball well and began the second half the way they had finished the first, on the front-foot.
Lee burst through the centre of the home back-line and although he was forced out wide by a covering defender, his cross to the back post was volleyed just over by the busy Ghaichem from a tight angle.
Ghaichem then returned the compliment, when his inviting cross from the right was headed straight at Dobbs by Lee.
Funk then brought on the returning Curtis Bernard for Law just before the hour, to rapturous applause from Boro’s travelling contingent.
Although Boro were starting to take charge, as they committed more men forward, Nostell still looked a threat on the counter attack.
Things could have been very different had two curling efforts in quick succession from Jimmy Eyles been a couple of centimetres lower.
Boro kept pusing though and Bernard put a great ball into the six-yard box that an off balance Blott nodded over the bar.
In the 67th minute Blott was on target when he calmly sent Dobbs the wrong way in the process of rolling home a penalty-kick following a harsh handball decision against Tony Rutter following a cross from Paddy Miller.
Some neat link-up between Miller, Blott and Lee down the left then allowed the latter a shot on goal but he fired well over before Matty Draper went close with a back-post header after another good delivery from Ghaichem.
With Ghaichem continuing to look lively, he combined well with Hackworth to free Blott wide on the right and the Boro number nine fired in a great low cross that just needed a touch from Lee or Bernard to make it 2-0.
Nostell were not out of it though and they almost grabbed a late equaliser when Eyles got in behind the Boro rearguard and rounded Martin only to be denied by a superb covering block on the line by the alert Draper.
That was however as good as it got for Nostell and although Tom Pope had a sight of goal in the last minute when Martin’s punch fell to him 20 yards out, his first-time effort was off target and Boro held on for their second win and clean sheet on the bounce.