Boro battle back to snatch draw at Lincoln

Boro striker Gary Bradshaw, who kick-started their comeback at Lincoln United
Boro striker Gary Bradshaw, who kick-started their comeback at Lincoln United

Scarborough Athletic produced a stunning late fightback to claim a point from their bank holiday Monday trip to Lincoln United.

Rudy Funk’s men were facing up to a second defeat in 48 hours before three goals in the final third of the game - the last of which arrived in added time - saw them grab a 3-3 draw at the NTR Stadium.

After the disappointment of their home defeat to Gresley two days earlier, Boro reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with James Bennett replacing Ryan Blott in the starting eleven.

The change of system had little effect and Boro picked up where they left off against Gresley, frequently giving the ball away and failing to generate any forward momentum.

In stark contrast, Lincoln were quickly into their stride and should have taken the lead in the 15th minute when Andy Hutchinson found himself with just Jason White to beat after good work by Sean Cann down the right wing.

However, the Boro stopper made himself big and diverted Hutchinson’s strike over the bar for a corner.

White could do nothing to deny Hutchinson 15 minutes later when the United number nine calmly moved Lincoln ahead from the penalty spot after Sam Denton had brought down the tricky Cann inside Boro’s box.

The Athletic keeper was left totally exposed again in the 35th minute as Josh Bowden was afforded the freedom of the penalty area to smash home a second for the hosts.

Boro were really struggling to get to grips with the intensity of Lincoln’s play and the strike pairing of Tony Hackworth and Gary Bradshaw were so starved of service for the majority of the first period that the visitors may as well have fielded a couple of sausages in the forward positions.

The one occasion that Boro did create a chance for one of their front men stemmed from a sublime piece of individual skill by Bryan Hughes who knocked the ball over the head of Ben Brown before pulling it back for Bradshaw, but the ex-North Ferriby man fired wide.

Boro’s only other effort of note before the interval also came courtesy of a moment of magic from skipper Hughes who forced a fine reflex save from Gavin Saxby with a clever volleyed effort.

With a half-time tongue-lashing from boss Funk ringing in their ears, Boro began the second period with some intent but just five minutes after the re-start it looked like they were dead and buried when United captain Andy Toyne cracked a 20-yard strike past White and into the bottom corner.

Blott and Lewis Clarkson were introduced in place of Hackworth and Peter Davidson just before the hour mark as Funk reverted to a three-pronged attack.

Almost immediately, Clarkson created a shooting opportunity for Blott that forced Saxby into action before Denton went even closer when he met a Bradshaw corner on the half-volley at the near post but his effort bounced away off the crossbar.

Boro had suddenly come to life and in the 66th minute they were handed a way back into the game when Paul Mayo manhandled Bradshaw in the area.

Bradshaw dusted himself down and sent Saxby the wrong way with the resulting spot-kick.

Buoyed by the goal, the visitors began to commit more men forward and White had to make a save with his feet to deny Cann what would have been a thoroughly-deserved goal following a swift Lincoln counter-attack.

Boro threw caution to the wind and were rewarded in the 75th minute when Andy Milne poked home from close range after a free-kick from the left had caused chaos in the United six-yard box.

Lincoln were creaking as Boro continued to up the ante and Matty Plummer headed over at the back post before a Bradshaw strike was pushed wide by Saxby following a short corner on the visitors’ left.

With the game into added time, Boro had the ball in the back of the hosts’ net for a third time, following a Hughes corner.

However, the travelling contingent’s celebrations were cut short as a handball by Blott was spotted and Denton’s close-range effort was rightly chalked off.

Boro were not to be denied though and substitute Clarkson - the man who notched a 90th-minute winner against Eastwood Town last week - kept his cool to register another vital late goal with just seconds left on the clock.

As bad as Boro were in the first half of this game, having been 3-0 down, a draw will probably feel almost as good as a victory.

There is still much for Funk and his players to improve on but they all deserve immense credit for the strength of character that they showed to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.

Boro: White, Plummer, Ridley, Milne, Denton, Davidson (Clarkson 59), Bolder, Hughes (c), Hackworth (Blott 59), Bradshaw, Bennett (Greening 80).

Booked: Bradshaw (dissent).

Attendance: 238.