SCARBOROUGH Athletic turned in a far from egg-cellent performance as they suffered an Easter Monday to forget at Arnold Town.
Rudy Funk’s men conceded three times in the first half as they slipped to fourth place in the NCEL premier division standings following a 3-0 defeat in Nottinghamshire.
Boro, unbeaten in four, made the worst possible start to the game. They had barely had a touch of the ball when Chris Freestone took advantage of some sloppy defending to fire the hosts ahead with just over a minute played.
Boro almost hit back immediately when some neat skill from Curtis Bernard on the left side of the Arnold penalty area allowed him room pick out Billy Law at the back post.
Law’s first-time effort forced Martin Kearney in the home goal into action and after a scramble in the six-yard box, Arnold eventually cleared their lines.
Five minutes later the visitors were indebted to their own keeper, when Kevin Martin dived to his left to parry Danny Gordon’s effort after the Arnold winger outpaced Denny Ingram to get on the end of a clever ball over the top.
Seconds later, Boro should have been level as the action flowed from end-to-end.
Law headed down a Paddy Miller cross from the left for Ryan Blott who was lurking near the penalty spot.
Blott worked a clear sight of goal for Bernard, but the former Bradford Park Avenue man placed his shot too close to Kearney who smothered the ball.
After a frantic opening 10 minutes the quarter of an hour was fairly uneventful.
Boro then enjoyed their best period of the game, creating but failing to convert a number of chances to restore parity.
Blott cut in from the left and weaved his way past three defenders before unleashing a powerful shot straight at Kearney in the 26th minute before Law again went close with a back-post effort.
In a moment of confusion, Denny Ingram was shown a yellow card just before the half-hour mark when referee Mr Park decided that a comment that was actually made by Daz Winters warranted a caution.
Boro continued to up the ante and in the 33rd minute Blott rattled the Arnold crossbar following a lovely move down the right flank.
Boro gained possession when Law got back to make a superb sliding challenge on the half-way line, allowing Ingram to take possession.
Ingram surged down the flank before passing infield to Blott who, with a superb piece of improvisation, sent Bernard scampering away to the byline.
Bernard returned the ball to his strike partner just a few yards from goal, but the pass was slightly behind Blott and his awkwardly hit shot clipped the bar and flew over with Kearney well beaten.
Blott then sent Bernard clean through on Kearney’s goal but Boro’s number 10 couldn’t bring the bouncing ball under control and with two defenders bearing down on him he fluffed his lines an scuffed a tame effort straight into the onrushing keeper’s arms.
That was about as good as it got for Boro as they were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.
Seven minutes before the break, and slightly against the run of play, Boro failed to defend a corner properly and Josh Schofield was allowed to force the ball home at the back post via a couple of deflections and the inside of Martin’s goalframe.
It looked like things were about to get worse for Boro following a long throw-in from the right, only the alertness of Ingram on the goalline preventing a third goal.
However, if the visitors thought they were going to make it into the interval just 2-0 down then they were mistaken.
With 44 minutes on the clock, Freestone laid the ball off to Schofield 20 yards out and his low strike skidded off the greasy surface and over the diving Martin who could only deflect the ball into the net via the inside of his post.
The second half was pretty much a non-event with Arnold clearly happy to sit on their three-goal cushion.
Neither keeper had too much to do and Boro never really threatened to get back into the game.
Law was involved in Boro’s brightest moments of the second period, a diving header flashing narrowly wide and a close-range shot deflected away before he was sent one on one with Kearney in the closing stages only to lob the ball over both goalkeeper and crossbar.
Gary Hepples then had Kearney scrambling when the Boro midfielder’s hopeful long ball from inside his own half looked like it was going to fly over the home keeper’s head and into the net.However, Kearney just managed to back pedal fast enough to pluck the ball out of the air and avert any embarrasment.
Chris Hewitt and Dave Kemp were introduced by Funk but neither managed to make much of an impact as the game petered out into a comfortable home win for Arnold.
How Funk must be wishing he had a midfielder with the guile of Willis Francis at his disposal.
Arnold’s diminuitive number 10 ran the show for the home side, pulling the strings in the heart of the midfield.
Although Hepples worked hard and made some important tackles and young Wilf Dinsdale was neat and tidy in possession once again, Boro missed Tony Hackworth in the middle of the park and were outclassed in that area by Francis.
Still yet to return to his best, striker Bernard will be disappointed with the two excellent chances that he spurned in the first half. Had he found the net with the score still at 1-0 things could have worked out very differently. His rich vein of form in the autumn seems an awfully long time ago.
It is now 19 games since Boro last won a game without top-scorer Blott finding the net. When Blott does not score, Boro do not win - a problem that Mr Funk really needs to address if Boro are to progress.