THIS time of year usually offers a scare or two and one looked to be in store for Scarborough Athletic until a last-gasp charge.
Hall Road looked to have cast a spell over Boro in the first half, as Rudy Funk’s men turned in a dismal display, but the introduction of the tough-tackling Gary Hepples seemed to exorcise any ghosts.
Funk elected to alter his previously-victorious formation by slotting Dean Windass in behind the front pair of Ryan Blott and Curtis Bernard.
This line-up lacked the required drive that Boro had enjoyed.
Though this guile did return for a thrilling last push.
The first half was something of a non-event for the home fans, as Boro huffed and puffed but enjoyed no success.
Bill Law came the closest in the opening few minutes as he struck the side-netting after keeper James Fossdyke spilled a corner back into his path.
Had the Sky Sports stats been available then Boro would have been dominating possession, but that certainly didn’t tell the right story.
It was Hall Road who created the majority of the clear-cut chances and they were unlucky not to take the lead before they finally did minutes away from he interval.
Kevin Martin had to be at his best to deny Tim Taylor, former Boro man Mark Griffin hoisted his shot over the bar and James McGarry missed a good chance at the far post.
McGarry did put on his shooting boots in the 42nd minute when a riled Dave Kemp was adjudged to have handled on the edge of the box. McGarry stepped up and neatly fizzed the ball home byond Martin’s reach.
Things didn’t get any rosier when the new period got underway. Adam Crane danced free on the left, beyond the challenges of Daz Winters and Tony Hackworth.
His path led him into the area, but his finish was lacking, as the ball skimmed past the far post.
Boss Funk rolled his dice just after the hour when he sent Hepples and Chris Hewitt on for Windass and Law - that tonic worked a treat.
Immediately Boro leapt onto the front foot, with Blott’s flick header drawing a save from Fossdyke seconds later.
Joe Naylor saw an effort saved and Bernard had a header cleared off the line as Boro continued to turn the screw.
The hosts just needed that lubrication of a goal to free them up, and it was the battling Hepples and the impressive Hackworth who opened the door.
Hepples’ long throw from the right was missed by everyone apart from Boro’s superb skipper, who made no mistake from close range.
Within a minute Winters’ cross also skipped into the box, and with Fossdyke fooled, the ball finished just wide.
The chances continued to come and go as Miller beat the keeper to the ball and directed his header wide.
Hepples did the same, but his effort finished in the side-netting.
There was still one last opportunity, launched by a lofted and hopeful Winters ball into the box.
Miller leapt highest and with Fossdyke stranded the ball looped home under the bar and into the back of the Hall Road net.