Scarborough Athletic survived a late test of their resolve on Saturday when they clung on to a 2-1 win against travelling Clitheroe.
Boro looked to be cruising over the winning line until a late loss of concentration nearly cost them all three points.
Fortunately the one-goal advantage was enough of a cushion, though that was despite the Lancashire side smelling blood in the final acts of the Evo-Stik North fixture.
The damage had been done by Boro much earlier in the game, as Boro’s piercing passing cut Clitheroe to shreds.
The addition of new boy Cameron Murray added a perfect balance to the hosts. He linked up superbly with Alex Metcalfe and Gary Bradshaw when Boro went on the front foot.
But it was set-pieces that unlocked Clitheroe in the opening minutes, as well as Bradshaw’s precision striking.
The frontman stepped up when referee Matt McGrath had awarded a free-kick 25 yards from goal. And Bradshaw made no mistake, bending brilliantly into the bottom corner of the net.
The cultured foot of Metcalfe almost made it two seconds later, but his free-kick lacked the required dip as it flew just over the bar.
It looked as though Boro had doubled their advantage after 12 minutes when Matty Plummer rifled home a volley, unfortunately the celebrations were curtailed by the linesman’s flag.
Boro continued their bright beginning to the game minutes later. Debut boy Murray nipped past the visiting defence, but keeper Peter Collinge’s quick thinking denied the pacy winger.
Then Kieran McCaffrey glided past the down-trodden Clitheroe back-line, only for Collinge to keep his side in the same vicinity with another smart save.
Clitheroe’s only chance of the first half came next when Ross Dent wriggled free of the Boro defence. The winger seemed to panic though and he scuffed a bobbling shot past the post.
That was followed by a mad minute from the Clitheroe defenders.
Danny Morton rashly hacked down Murray in the box, leaving Mr McGrath no option but to point at the spot and dish out a straight red card.
Collinge saved Bradshaw’s kick, but when the ball broke free, Seydou Bamba crudely pushed Tom Corner to the ground.
Corner brushed away the dirt and settled himself before converting brilliantly from the spot for his third goal in eight days.
When Boro returned for the final 45 minutes of the game they must have thought the job was done.
The pipe and slippers came out for a number of players, fortunate Clitheroe still lacked the cutting edge to threaten.
Sefton Gonzales was sent streaking clear of Boro’s defence, but he dallied and was soon crowded out.
Gonzales was then picked out by a cross into the Boro box, he got his head on the ball, though his weak effort was directed wide of the target.
Boro almost killed things off in the 68th minute. Corner found some space and crashed a shot at Collinge, who tipped it up in the air and against the bar.
Sub Jimmy Beadle pounced on the rebound, but he was flagged off-side.
Boro shook things up, withdrawing Murray - to a rapturous applause - and Bradshaw. James Bennett and Ryan Blott took their places.
Athletic’s edge returned and Metcalfe found his way onto James Walker’s poor back-pass. The midfielder angled his shot across goal, but is flashed just wide.
It looked as though it was game over by this point, that was until Clitheroe grabbed a late lifeline.
Dent’s managed to keep his composure when Boro’s defence lost theirs and the Clitheroe man bundled home past keeper Joe Cracknell.
And Clitheroe almost levelled minutes later when Gonzales won a header on the edge of the six-yard box, but the ball sailed just over.
Shaken, Boro finally began to fend off this quick-fire mauling and let go with some late blows of their own.
Blott almost wrapped up the proceedings in injury-time, when he cleverly beat his man wide on the edge of the area. The striker cut in and smashed the ball across the goal. Keeper Collinge’s outstretched palm guided it away from the bottom corner and to safety.
Clitheroe were a spent force by this time and Boro had made sure of the win. This was a victory which cemented Athletic’s position of fourth in the table heading into a crucial few weeks of action for the club.