Beverley Town keeper Adam Nicholson was his side’s hero with some superlative saves as the league leaders successfully defended their season-long unbeaten record in a 1-1 draw against Scarborough Town at the McCain Sports Ground.
Town had the first clear chance after only four minutes, with Ben Luntley sending Ricky Greening away but his effort went outside the far post.
Then the visitors had a shout for a penalty although Ricky Nock’s challenge seemed to be a good one.
Beverley looked a very well-drilled side, pushing their defensive line towards halfway and leaving Nicholson to sweep up any long passes which Town attempted.
Organised by former Boro midfielder Dave Ricardo, the visitors lived up to their billing of league leaders and undefeated all season in three competitions. However Town were not overawed and were soon starting to push the visiting defenders to their limits.
On 19 minutes Town took the lead when Luntley took a pass in his stride, held off his marker Dane Mortimer and pushed the ball neatly past Nicholson into the bottom corner of the net.
Beverley put together some neat passing moves without creating a clear chance although Town keeper Matty Scott had to tip away a dangerous low cross from the right wing.
Town could and should have gone further in front after 25 minutes, Greening worked his way into the area and was clipped by a defender. The linesman signalled for a penalty, but Greening stayed on his feet and tried to convert the chance as referee Andy Dunne opted to play an advantage. However the visitors finally hacked the ball away leaving Town with the feeling of injustice.
Greening soon had a further attempt on goal put his effort lacked the power to beat Nicholson, then Jamie Bradshaw hit the ball sweetly from 30 yards but Nicholson was well-placed to make a comfortable save.
Town’s excellent attacking spell continued, and Bradshaw foxed his marker to head goalwards but was brought down on the corner of the penalty box by Mortimer who was yellow-carded for the offence. Town took the free-kick short, and Luntley hit a snapshot which narrowly cleared the bar.
Beverley were level on 38 minutes when leading scorer Rob Northen, another ex-Scarborough Athletic player, bustled through two tackles and blasted the ball from close range, Scott getting a hand on the ball but unable to deflect its path.
The visitors’ hard-working wing-back Ryan Nicholls made a good run down the line and flashed a cross across the face of goal, then Rich Gibson showed some neat footwork but blasted the ball over the bar.
Town had had the better of the first half and Beverley began the second period by reinforcing their midfield and waiting for set-pieces from which they could hope to create chances.
However Bradshaw made a good run and looped in a cross which Asa Pardoe was forced to head over his own crossbar. Then a curling free-kick from the same Town player led to some confusion in the visiting area and Baz Gill had a brief sight of goal but stabbed the ball narrowly wide from 10 yards.
Martin Cooper made a good run onto a long ball and tried to lift the ball past James Whittingham, but the full back clearly handled the ball and the referee was in no doubt as he pointed to the penalty spot. Luntley took the kick but Nicholson flew full-length to make a save, then excelled himself by parrying the follow-up from Gary Thomas. Within a minute the keeper made a third superb save when he arched his back to fingertip a bending shot from Bradshaw over the bar.
Beverley continued to pass the ball around accurately without causing too many alarms for Town, and the occasional long balls were solidly dealt with by Josh Clayton or tidily snuffed out by Tony Pickles and Baz Gill. Beverley’s clearest chance came from a hopeful ball which was taken around Scott but to a very narrow angle, allowing Clayton to clear the ball from in front of the goal line.
Town sub Sean Exley, back from injury, made a good run but was unable to get the better of Nicholson, then Bradshaw hit a curling free-kick which smacked against the crossbar with Nicholson finally beaten.
Beverley had a chance to snaffle the points when the tricky Northen set up substitute Craig Palmer, whilst at the other end another newly-introduced player Danny Collins went away on the left but his curling shot was well saved by the admirable Nicholson.
In the end Beverley were grateful to leave McCains with their unbeaten record intact, but they showed plenty of evidence as to why they are favourites to win the Humber Premier League championship this season for the first time.
Town: Scott, Nock, Clayton, Pickles (Manson 71), Gill, G Thomas, Bradshaw, N Thomas, Luntley (Collins 80), Greening (Exley 65), Cooper.