Awful Boro slip to Arnold defeat

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SCARBOROUGH Athletic’s title hopes faded in the sun at Queensgate, as Arnold held firm for a smash and grab three points.

On a day more suited to building sandcastles on the beach, Boro failed to dig their way out of the trench, producing a tepid performance right across the park.

Boss Rudy Funk opted to field Curtis Bernard, Adam Lee and Ryan Blott in attack, but the goal-rush that everyone expected failed to materialise.

Instead, Arnold were gifted a couple of simple goals that made the difference in the end.

Right from the first whistle, Arnold seemed to be up for the battle, in contrast Boro just looked nonchalant.

This was underlined just one minute and 45 seconds into the game, when Kevin Martin spilled a shot and Luke Smithson reacted quicker than a static Boro backline to score.

The early onslaught continued, with Matt Draper having to clear off his own line and veteran striker Martin Carruthers missing a guilt-edged chance inside the six-yard box.

Bernard did show some attacking quality with a dipping volley that sailed just wide, but it was Arnold, who were making all the running.

Sam Leggitt’s free-kick smashed against the angle of bar and post, while Martin needed two attempts to gather Ryan Whitehurst’s effort.

Boro were denied an undeserved equaliser just before the end of an awful first half when keeper Martin Kearney saved superbly from he head of Draper.

Having started slowly in the first period, Boro matched the feat after the interval, as Arnold bagged a second just minutes after finishing their half-time oranges.

Martin failed to hang onto a lofted ball under pressure from Carruthers. The ref waved play-on and the former Peterborough man gleefully stroked home.

After a woeful showing, things had to improve for Boro, and they did, but only slightly, in the remaining minutes of the game.

Lee had a pair of good opportunities, sending a drive just over and then blazing out of the ground after he dallied too long in the box.

Draper again produced the best out of the Arnold keeper as the clock ticked on, but the resulting corner did present Boro with some hope.

The ball broke to lively sub Chris Hewitt, whose drilled cross was bundled home by Bernard.

Blott, who spent much of the game in a much deeper role, saw his overhead kick held by the keeper, then his opposite number Ryan Whitehurst missed a great chance to wrap it up on the counter, as he drove wide.

It did seem as though the pressure would tell and Boro would level, this did look to be the case as the clash edged into injury-time.

Blott’s effort was pushed away by Kearney, but it fell into the path of Hewitt with the keeper floored.

Unfortunately, his goal-bound shot failed to burst through the recovering wall of defenders, and Arnold clung on for the surprise success.