Newlands remained top of the Scarborough News Sunday League division one table after a 1-1 home draw with title rivals Trafalgar at a windy Snainton this morning.
The point means that Newlands are top by a point from Traf, with both sides having their final games next Sunday, at Itis Itis and Commercial respectively.
With both the home teams struggling in the league it looks likely that the visitors will win in both games, which would mean Newlands pipping title-holders to the league crown.
Today’s match was a very keenly-contested encounter, hardly surprising considering that the title was up for grabs.
The bobbly pitch and windy weather did little to help either, with several players miskicking the ball, and this led to a stop-start first half.
Newlands suffered an early blow when their defensive midfielder Michael Wilson, who was outstanding for Park’s Saturday League team in their League Cup final win on Wednesday, went down injured after only 13 minutes and had to be carried to the changing rooms.
Jordan Mintoft came on to replace him, the latter slotting in at centre-back alongside Leigh Watson, which meant skipper Matty Griffiths was pushed up into central midfield.
Two minutes before half-time a Shaun Dodson back-header slipped past his own keeper Chris Ferrey and only a fine clearance from Gaz Thomas maintained the goalless scoreline.
This did not last for long though, as less than 60 seconds later the ball broke to Stew Bates just inside the Traf penalty area on the right hand side and the forward cut inside before firing a rising shot past Ferrey and into the top corner of the net, sparking celebrations on the Park touchline.
Traf made a bright start to the second half, with captain Neil Thomas testing Park keeper Callum Myers with a low shot from the edge of the box, but the youngster safely collected the ball.
Striker Billy Logan was becoming more of a threat for the visitors as the game went on, but the Park defence of Jonny Mason, Mintoft, Watson and Kile Fields stuck to their task and repelled all danger thanks to some brave blocks, strong header and well-timed tackles.
Nine minutes into the second half Jack Hakings, who won everything in the air for Newlands in central midfield, managed to miss the target with a header when free in the Traf penalty area from a Kyle May free-kick.
The first Newlands player into referee Paul Hogarth’s notebook was forward Drew McCoubrey for failing to retreat 10 yards for a free-kick in the 59th minute, Traf youngster Lewis Taylor having been cautioned just before half-time for talking back to the match official.
McCoubrey soon showed his skills on the right wing, as four minutes later he sent in a searching cross which just proved too high for Bates, as it grazed the top of his head as he ran in at the far post.
Bates, who impressed in the first half, was replaced by Daniel Freer in the 71st minute and a minute later Logan’s shot was saved well at the near post by Myers, Traf now pushing winger Luke Jenkinson up into the front line alongside strikers Mikey Barker and Pickering Town striker Logan.
This attacking philosophy bore fruit in the 76th minute, Logan quickest to react after Myers had made a fine save in a goalmouth scramble following a corner, guiding his shot into the net and reviving Traf’s hopes of claiming the win they required to claim control of the title race.
Traf then brought on youngster Kurtis Henderson for centre-back Gaz Thomas and he also pushed up front as they went for the win, as the game became more stretched in the final 10 minutes.
A challenge between Traf left-back Danny White and May sparked outrage on the touchline in the 85th minute, the latter laying prone on the floor after the full-blooded tackle. White was cautioned by Hogarth while May was unable to continue so Aidan Thomas came on for the hosts.
McCoubrey blazed a late shot wide when well-placed, but there were no further chances as Newlands held firm for a point that puts them on the brink of Sunday League glory, the celebrations among the Park players showing how much the win meant to them.
Newlands joint-manager Ben Luntley said: “I am proud of the way the lads played today, every single one of them worked so hard and that has been the way we have got into this position this season as we graft right to the very end.
“If you look at that Traf team today it was not so different from the County Cup-winning side, and we have earned a draw against them.
Luntley added: “I thought central midfielder Jack Hakings and Stefan Moon, who was playing just behind the striker, were the men of the match today as they got through so much work. But all the lads played superbly as we managed to stop Traf playing and that is what we wanted to do.
“We now have to win our last game at Itis Itis to make sure of the title, as you would guess Traf will win their final game at Commercial next Sunday.
“We also have three cup finals to look forward to so hopefully we can continue our good form.”
Logan was probably Traf’s most impressive player on the day, leading the line well and doing especially well in the second half, while Griffiths and Kile Fields shone for the hosts in midfield and defence repectively.
Newlands Park: Callum Myers, Jonny Manson, Leigh Watson, Matty Griffiths (captain), Kile Fields, Kyle May (Aidan Thomas 85), Michael Wilson (Jordan Mintoft 13), Jack Hakings, Stew Bates (Daniel Freer 71), Stefan Moon, Drew McCoubrey. Sub not used: Chris Mann.
Trafalgar: Chris Ferrey, Dean Craig, Gaz Thomas (Kurtis Henderson 82), Shaun Dodson, Danny White, Luke Jenkinson, Neil Thomas (captain), Jamie Patterson, Lewis Taylor, Mikey Barker, Billy Logan. Subs not used: Gary Jordan, Alex Sheader.