Boro's hopes dealt a blow with Atherton loss
Scarborough Athletic's promotion hopes were dealt a blow as they lost 2-1 at Atherton on Saturday afternoon.
On a pitch that made any attractive football nigh on impossible, Boro fell two goals behind in the early stages, and despite battering the hosts in the second half, they failed to restore equilibrium.
Boro returned to a more recognised starting line-up after Thursday's League Cup trip to Atherton, though Bailey Gooda stepped forward from his usual role in the centre of the defence to play in the midfield.
Things looked bright in the first seconds as Michael Coulson was fed by James Walshaw, but he couldn't beat keeper Greg Hartley in the foot race.
Minutes later Steve Kittrick's men found themselves a goal behind. The speed of Jordan Cover was too much for the Boro defence and he rolled neatly past Tommy Taylor.
Playing their way up the hill in the first half, Boro found it difficult to clear their lines and they were soon punished for a second time.
It was again the pace of Cover, who sped away from the back-line and placed home with a carbon-copy finish.
Stung twice by these blows, the Boro bench opted for a change, with Josh Snowden being withdrawn and Lewis Sugden coming on, Gooda reverting back to his usual role in the defence.
Boro almost fell three behind when a back-pass to Taylor was short, Ben Hardcastle nipped in, but Gooda got back to clear his effort off the line.
Sam Hewitt then had to stretch his leg to make a superb saving tackle as Cover searched for his third.
A poor first half for the visitors was finally concluded by the referee, leaving Boro with plenty to do in the final 45 minutes.
Things almost got worse after Mr Smith's next whistle though, as Cover cut in from the left, but Taylor charged form his goal to save well.
Boro finally began to show some attacking threat as they ventured down the slope, though they still struggled to test home keeper Greg Hartley.
Coulson did find himself in a good situation, but his effort was blocked. The rebound fell to Walshaw, but Atherton managed to scuff his shot off the line.
Having camped in the home half for much of the second half they finally made a breakthrough of their own with 10 minutes left.
Walshaw rolled a sliderule pass through to Coulson, who beat Hartley to the ball and dinked it home.
The pressure was maintained as a Sugden shot ballooned off Jack Johnson and sailed just wide.
Then keeper Taylor caused problems in the home penalty area from a corner.
But Atherton dug in and hung on for the three points, at the same time, dealing Boro's promotion hopes a huge blow.