Scarborough Town suffer late Crown loss at Ayton

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Scarborough Town were unlucky to come out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline after creating any number of chances but failing to add the all-important finishing touch and in a late foray, Hull-based Crown FC notched the winner in the 89th minute.

With their normal venue at McCain Sports Ground still unplayable after the recent bad weather, Town were grateful to Ayton Sports Association for the use of their venue at Garth End Road.

Town were first out of the blocks with a Martin Cooper centre being cut out, but debutant keeper Jamie Haxby soon got a touch by fielding a hopeful long ball from Crown. The first shot of the game came from Town’s Sean Exley but the ball bounced wide.

Town could have gone ahead after five minutes when a neat touch from Ben Luntley sent Jamie Bradshaw away on goal, but Crown keeper Craig O’Grady rushed out to narrow the angle and blocked the fiercely-hit shot. Crown took the ball forward with an excellent passing move, but a solid tackle from Josh Clayton cleared the danger.

Both sides were trying to pass the ball around on a rather bumpy surface, and in midfield Neil Thomas and Danny Collins seemed to be getting on top without being able to provide the killer pass. Crown’s Mike Rustill tried a long-range effort which was well off target, then Exley made a good interception and stormed through but from a very narrow angle his shot skidded the wrong side of the far post. Bradshaw again profited from a Luntley touch to slam in a shot which clipped the crossbar and bounced over.

Exley tried his luck with a free-kick from 20 yards but the defensive wall did its job well. It seemed only to be a matter of time before Town went ahead, but visiting defender Ryan McCallister was winning everything in the air, and the Crown defence was well organised and listening to a constant stream of instructions and encouragement from keeper O’Grady whose voice rarely dipped below the 90 decibel level.

A well-timed intervention from Ricky Nock saw the ball being moved swiftly and neatly upfield where Thomas was denied by a good save from O’Grady. Town piled on the pressure and the visiting defence showed the first signs of panic before the ball fell to Exley whose effort smacked against the crossbar from 20 yards.

On 36 minutes Town finally got the goal they deserved. Cooper brought the ball through midfield and was felled by a crude challenge, but the referee played a good advantage as Luntley took over and held off the challenge of two defenders before beating O’Grady to put Town 1-0 ahead.

This seemed to finally inspire Crown to push further upfield, and Haxby made a good save at the near post before tipping over a thunderous drive from Jim Hall as the visitors enjoyed a brief spell of supremacy before the interval.

Town again looked the more dangerous side after the resumption, and had three good chances to put some daylight between themselves and their opponents. Bradshaw broke through but was unable to convert the chance, then Luntley went away but blasted the ball too high, and finally Exley showed great determination to get away from his marker but dragged his attempt wide of goal.

With Town showing such profligacy in front of goal, the age-old footballing paradox dictated that the next goal would inevitably come at the other end of the pitch, and so it proved. Town hesitated to clear the ball, and it was prodded in by Alex Tesseyman for the equaliser.

The home team piled back upfield, and Bradshaw took the ball wide before providing a cross which was nodded wide by Thomas before Town’s wingman again hit a delightful cross which the unfortunate Mike Gregory could only guide past his own keeper to put Town 2-1 up after 70 minutes.

Although the game had become a little scrappy, there were more goals to come.

On 80 minutes Alex Revelly went through on the left and converted neatly to equalise once again for Crown, but back came Town and the ball fell at the feet of Baz Gill who blasted the ball just over the crossbar from five yards out.

A drawn game would have been a disappointment for Town, but the situation became worse in the 89th minute when a half-chance fell to Ricky Kemp who smashed the ball into the net to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.

In injury-time Jon Manson crossed for Exley to volley the ball sweetly but straight at the alert O’Grady, then a long throw-in provided a final chance for Thomas whose effort crept past the wrong side of the post with the relieved keeper scrambling along his line.

Town: Haxby, Manson, Clayton, Nock, Gill (Holt 85), Bradshaw (A Thomas 77), N Thomas, Collins (Pickles 78), Luntley, Exley, Cooper.