SCARBOROUGH Town bounced back to the top of the Humber Premier League Division One table with a convincing win against title rivals Bransholme Athletic.
The visitors arrived on the back of a 13-game unbeaten run with nine consecutive victories, but they were outclassed by a Town side who played bright and inventive high-tempo football.
Town piled forward right from the kick-off, with a Baz Gill header blocked on the line and a piledriver from Jamie Patterson deflected over the bar.
Then Neil Fryirs broke through and hit a firm shot which was met by a flying save from Athletic keeper Mike Antcliffe.
Town were looking sharp and inventive and took a deserved lead after 13 minutes. Jamie Bradshaw danced through the defence and rolled the ball back to Ben Luntley who beat the last man but was pulled down as he was about to pull the trigger.
Kris Tate - who had missed a vital penalty when the two sides met earlier in the season - stepped forward and made no mistake with a powerful strike from the 12-yard mark.
Bransholme finally showed their capabilities with some neat passing in midfield and earned a corner which Town keeper Rob Clark pushed away to safety.
However the home players all looked to be at the top of their game, winning possession with firm tackling and attacking with gusto.
Town extended their lead with a magnificent second goal on 19 minutes, with Bradshaw cutting through the Athletic defence at full speed and a superb touch from Luntley setting up Tate to aim confidently for the corner of the net.
Sean Exley, playing behind the strikers, was having a big influence on the game and cut in from the left to set up Luntley whose curling effort was well saved by Antcliffe.
Then a mazy run from Luntley was halted at the expense of a corner, and some exquisite interpassing sent Luntley away on the right to cut back inside and curl a shot agonisingly wide of the far post.
Bransholme’s desperation led to a number of free kicks against them, and a quickly-taken kick allowed Luntley an identical left-footed curler which again beat the keeper but went outside the post.
Bransholme’s best chance in the first half came from a free-kick for handball which was blasted into the defensive wall, and Dave Bettney also did well down the right before hitting a fierce drive over the bar.
Town began the second half with a determined run from Fryirs earning a corner, Tate’s delivery being met by a Gill header which went narrowly over. Bransholme threatened briefly when Josh Nielson sent a low cross flashing across the Town box, but Town were soon controlling the game again with a mazy run from Bradshaw, ending in a shot which was deflected over the bar.
Jamie Patterson was having a superb game in midfield, winning every ball despite some rough treatment from his opponents and allowing Tate and Exley to supply the ammunition for the front players.
Luntley was denied by a great tackle and a long-range effort from Exley was well held by the overworked Antcliffe.
At the other end, a speculative drive from Luke Mallinson went too high, and Dale Leathley headed weakly at Clark with what turned out to be Athletic’s only effort on target.
It seemed only a matter of time before Town went further ahead, but it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Town made it three, a well-worked short corner allowing Tate to cross accurately for Gill to volley sweetly into the net from close range.
Substitute Danny Collins added to Town’s firepower but hit a low drive just wide.
Then Luntley raced through and took the ball past the keeper but ran out of space at the byline before stopping to chip the ball into the six-yard box but Antcliffe recovered to make a great save.
On 86 minutes Jamie Bradshaw provided the coup de grace, picking the ball up in left midfield and skipping past two challenges at high speed before unleashing a ferocious 30-yarder which sped into the roof of the net for Town’s 100th league goal of the campaign and surely a contender for goal of the season.
After some intricate interpassing Tate just missed out on a hat-trick when his low shot went wide, but on the final whistle Town had claimed the points in great style to re-take top spot in the league table.
l Town: Clark, Nock, Briggs, Pickles, Gill, Patterson, Exley (Jackson 83), Tate, Fryirs (Collins 80), Luntley, Bradshaw (Darling 86).