Scarborough Athletic moved to the top of the NCEL premier division standings after a 1-0 home success over Parkgate at a wet Queensgate on Tuesday evening.
Ryan Blott’s 63rd-minute penalty, combined with former leaders Worksop Parramore dropping two points at home to Nostell Miners Welfare, was enough to send Rudy Funk’s side into pole position in the division.
Boro were not at their fluent best on the night but they displayed a grittiness and resolve that proved to be enough to earn them a vital three points. If the sign of a good side is being able to win games when not at your best, then Boro can’t be far away.
After a promising opening 15 minutes where they enjoyed plenty of possession, Boro were second best for a large part of the opening period, although they never really looked in too much danger of conceding.
There were a few nervous moments in Steve Wilson’s box and the former Hull City man had to be at his best to tip Nathan Forbes-Swindells’ curling effort around the post in the 23rd minute.
As the half wore on, Parkgate began to take control of proceedings and Boro struggled to keep the ball, leaving boss Funk at times apoplectic on the sideline.
Funk’s mood and Boro’s cause were not aided by referee Mr Guest’s seeming reluctance to award any decisions in the home side’s favour in almost the entirety of the opening 45 minutes.
The hosts did end the first half on the front foot and were only inches away from taking the lead in quite sensational fashion after 43 minutes when James Bennett rattled the woodwork.
After the hard-working Blott chased down visiting gloveman Jamie Bailey, the Parkgate keeper’s rushed clearance fell to Bennett 40 yards from goal and his stunning effort looked like it was heading for the top corner only to rebound to safety off an upright.
Boro continued to press forward in the closing moments of the half and the half-time whistle probably arrived at the wrong time for Funk’s men.
Whatever was said in the home dressing room at the interval clearly didn’t register with the Boro players as just a few seconds into the second period they should have found themselves a goal behind.
A long ball forward skidded off the top of Matt Plummer’s head and both Forbes-Swindells and strike partner Brian Cusworth found themselves clean through on Wilson’s goal.
Forbes-Swindells took the ball on and with the freedom of the penalty area and just the Boro keeper to beat, he opted for power over placement and lashed a shot high over the bar when it looked easier to score.
An even 10 minutes ensued and Boro replaced James Bennett with Tom Claisse as they sought to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
It was, however, the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock as Forbes-Swindells showed why he already has 15 goals to his name this season.
The pacy striker almost got around the back of the Boro defence in the 58th minute but debutant Cameron Fearon got back to cover well.
From the resulting corner, Daniel Patterson’s wicked low delivery flashed across the face of the Boro goal, luckily eluding the Parkgate attackers, before just moments later Forbes-Swindells cut in from the left and beat Wilson but not the post.
Having ridden their luck at the beginning of the second half, Boro took full advantage by moving in front with 63 minutes on the clock.
Blott was scythed down in the penalty area before dusting himself down to fire the resulting spot-kick past Bailey, despite the Parkgate stopper guessing the right way.
It was almost 2-0 just a minute later when a curling shot from Blott brought the best out of Bailey, and Plummer then headed over the bar from inside the six-yard box as Boro began to turn the screw.
Gaz Clayton and Dave Kemp entered the fray in the final 20 minutes in place of Robbie Hawkes and Fearon respectively as Funk shuffled his pack.
Although Parkgate threw men forward and bombarded the home goal from set pieces when they had the chance in the final minutes, there were no more goals and Boro saw the game out without any major scares.
Stand out performers for the victors were Daz Winter who marshalled the back line well, Peter Davidson who kept Boro ticking over from the centre of the park and the lively Blott who always looks a goal threat.
Boro: Wilson, Winter, Miller, Fearon (Kemp 78), Plummer, Adams, Bennett (Claisse 57), Hackworth, Blott, Davidson, Hawkes (Clayton 70). Subs not used: Ramm, Milne.