Town’s players ended up battered and bruised but they let their football do the talking and claimed three fully-deserved points against a very robust St Andrews team.
The home side made their intentions clear from the start, with a display of flowing one-touch football which barely allowed St Andrews a touch of the ball. An early free kick from Jamie Patterson caused problems for the visitors who could only half-clear the danger and Jamie Bradshaw clipped the ball goalwards but just over the bar. With only 4 minutes on the clock Ricky Greening broke through but was flattened by goalkeeper John Platten who was given a yellow card by the referee. Patterson converted the penalty with assurance to put Town 1-0 up.
Ben Luntley then went clear on goal but was brought down just outside the box by the pursuing Sean Day who also earned a yellow card. Sean Exley’s free kick was deflected straight into the hands of a grateful Platten. St Andrews had barely progressed out of their own half until Lewis Poucher showed great strength and persistence to break through several tackles but the Town defence eventually dispossessed him. Luntley then latched on to a poor back pass from Shane Hill and unselfishly tried to pull the ball across goal to Greening but the chance went begging.
Town’s movement was pulling the visiting defenders out of position, and Bradshaw went clear to bring a good save who Platten who also reacted well to make another save as Greening fired in the rebound. It took St Andrews 20 minutes before they had a sight of goal, Andy Smith making good progress down the left wing but shooting over the bar from a narrow angle. Town were well on top at this stage, with the visitors hassling and harrying but barely clinging on to the game at times. Luntley and Patterson worked the ball cleverly into the opposition area but a last-ditch interception saved the day for St Andrews.
Only as the first half drew to a close were Town able to make the scoreline a more realistic reflection of the game. On 41 minutes a deft touch from Luntley sent Bradshaw storming away to tuck the ball neatly past the keeper for 2-0. Luntley then nipped in to dispossess a defender but brought a good save from Platten, however the keeper was left helpless on 44 minutes when Exley took possession in midfield and surged forward to score from the edge of the penalty area.
Substitute Aidan Thomas, who had replaced the injured Gary Thomas in midfield, took advantage of good work from Josh Clayton to fizz the ball across the box but the tall Platten stretched well to grab the ball. As Town piled on the pressure and St Andrews took too long to clear the ball, Exley took a snapshot which came back off the bar.
In a rare threat from the visitors, Joe Aldous burst forward into a gap and found Poucher who was denied by a well-timed tackle from Anthony Pickles. Back at the other end, a 35-yarder from Exley was saved low down by Patten, but out of the blue St Andrews pulled a goal back after 67 minutes when Shane Hill chased a long ball down the left wing and slid the ball past Town keeper Rob Clark, the ball trundling agonisingly slowly towards the goal and just reaching the target before the Town defence could recover. However Town restored their three-goal advantage within a minute when top scorer Luntley ran clear on the left and bent the ball superbly round the keeper and inside the far post.
Luntley soon created another chance by going outside the full back but rolled the ball wide of the post, then the same player drew a good save from Platten after latching onto a diagonal ball from Pickles. Substitute Neil Thomas cut inside to shoot narrowly wide, and the visitors then created a rare chance but Aldous side-footed the ball weakly at Clark. Town continued to play with vigour and intensity, drawing a number of fouls from St Andrews who looked increasingly desperate. On 78 minutes Bradshaw pushed the ball past Day and hared in pursuit, but the full back cynically brought down the flying winger and the referee had little option but to reach for his yellow card and send Day off the field for his second such offence.
On 79 minutes Luntley went clear of a tiring St Andrews back line and took the ball around Platten but the keeper lunged at Luntley in an effort to bring him down. Luntley stayed on his feet and placed the ball into the net, but was then clattered once again by the irate keeper - a truly dreadful foul which incensed the crowd and the Town players. Obviously Platten would be sent off, but astonishingly the referee did this via a yellow card which was the keeper’s second of the game. Meanwhile Luntley was helped off the field and Town played the remaining ten minutes of the game with ten men against St Andrews’ nine.
Ricky Nock found the freedom to race away and fire just wide, and after 86 minutes the same player sent over an accurate diagonal ball which Bradshaw judged superbly to volley onto the net for Town’s sixth goal.
Town: Clark, Nock, Clayton (Barnes 59), Pickles, Gill, Patterson, Bradshaw, G Thomas (A Thomas 38), Greening (N Thomas 64), Luntley, Exley.
DON’T MISS ... Thursday’s Scarborough News for more from Town’s win. Including the thoughts of manager Shaun Rennison.