High-flying Bridlington too strong for United

Long Eaton United's Shaun Rickford celebrates scoring against Bridlington Town on Saturday.
Long Eaton United's Shaun Rickford celebrates scoring against Bridlington Town on Saturday.
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LONG Eaton fell to their fifth straight league defeat as free-scoring Bridlington Town won an entertaining encounter at Grange Park on Saturday.

Northern Counties East

Premier Division

Long Eaton United 1

Bridlington Town 3

LONG Eaton fell to their fifth straight league defeat as free-scoring Bridlington Town won an entertaining encounter at Grange Park on Saturday.

United created more chances than their visitors overall, but ultimately it was Bridlington who took more of them and claimed all three points.

The first-half, at times, produced some of United’s best football of the season to date and from the opening whistle it was evident that they were not going to sit back and allow their more loftily placed opponents to over-run them.

The ball was being fed to Will Mellors-Blair on United’s left with some regularity from the outset and Chris Murdock was linking up well with the United winger, who ensured his opposite number endured a torrid first 45 minutes with some clever and pacy running.

Both of United’s early efforts were struck from distance after Mellors-Blair cut inside to fire two shots over the bar and on ten minutes he was impeded agonisingly close to the penalty box.

Fortuitously, the resultant free-kick eluded the visitors’ defence and Shaun Rickford was on hand to direct the ball past Mark Wilberforce to record his tenth goal of the season and put his side ahead.

It had been a vibrant and encouraging start by United but their enjoyment at taking the lead was short-lived as Josh Greening dived to head his side level following an accurate cross from James Bennett only two minutes later.

United pushed forward in search of a quick response and a Matt Weightman header went wide, but with the game barely 28 old Bridlington edged ahead in almost routine fashion.

A defensive error was seized upon by the visiting captain Ash Allanson and the midfielder kept his cool to slot the ball home from a tight angle as United’s ‘keeper Ross Whalin advanced.

Despite the setback United continued to force the visitors onto the back foot and the returning Paul Gamble and team-mate Gary Breach were each getting through a tremendous amount of work in the centre of midfield in an effort to carve out the openings that would bring their team back into the contest.

There were times when United appeared to be overwhelming their visitors and twice in a few minutes Zakk Hilton sent two efforts thundering against the woodwork from distance, one of which rebounded to Rickford who almost turned it back into the net.

Michael Armstrong also fired in a long range effort that flew over the bar and Wilberforce produced a superb close range save from Dean Whiley shortly before the interval.

During the second-half United were a little more subdued and the visitors appeared to have solved the problem of Mellors-Blair by tightening up on their marking style.

However, there was still a belief that United could battle their way back into the game.

But the visitors restricted their creativity more efficiently than they had in the first period and although Weightman in particular was working tirelessly, clear cut chances failed to materialise.

As United entered the final phase of the game they introduced Josh Hooley, Kelvin Mushambi and Jimmy Hunter in a attempt to retrieve some reward for their endeavours but with 11 minutes remaining Bridlington effectively made the game safe when Darren Clough found room in the centre of midfield to lift the ball over Whalin from fully 30 yards out, in what was perhaps a more speculative than deliberate effort.

Nonetheless, it gave the visitors the comfort they needed to secure all three points and although United had two late attempts from Hooley and Mushambi, it was the more clinical of the two sides who took the spoils.

United: Whalin, Armstrong, Whiley (c), Marshall, Murdock, Hilton (Hunter 76), Breach (Hooley 76), Gamble, Mellors-Blair, Rickford, Weightman (Mushambi 81)

l Long Eaton travel to Lincoln Moorlands this Saturday (5th), kick-off 3pm.