A New Season
The NCEL Premier Division kicked off in style as Garforth Town paid a visit to Bridlington Town. 225 spectators entered Queensgate with expectations from both teams high.
As the match kicked off it signalled the end of the Summer preparations and the start of another long season. Bridlington fielded a heavily changed side from last season’s mid-table finishers. Though the team is still gelling there were many improvements made since the start of the pre-season campaign.
Garforth looked the liveliest of the teams, producing some fine runs down the channels, but Bridlington’s defence stood firm. New signing Nathan Doyle found himself in a more defensive role to cope with the numbers going forward, and his experience helped keep Garforth at bay through prolonged periods of attack.
Bridlington’s main source of attack during the first half were from lofted balls from Lewis Dennison and Andy Norfolk, with Jake Day and Shaquille McKenzie trying to capitalise on their superior pace.
Garforth’s Devonte Morton caused the Town defence many problems, including some fine attempts on goal, thwarted by Tom Jackson. Jackson was unlucky to not receive man of the match for his stellar performance, but his great work was overshadowed by a super-sub in the second half.
Albert Ibrahimi came the closest to scoring in the first half. His dizzying run through the Bridlington defence forced keeper Tom Jackson’s hand, who was beaten by Ibrahimi. His shot was fired hard and low toward the Town goal, but his effort was cleared off the line by Mike Thompson.
Tempers flared as the referee whistled for the end of the first half. Andy Norfolk and Javan Benjamin had to be separated by their respective captains.
The second half kicked off in a similar fashion to the first. Garforth looked the readiest to press forward and their attempts put further pressure on the Town defence.
Some questionable officiating lead to Shaquille McKenzie opening up this season’s Yellow Card account. As a free kick was awarded to the Garforth defence, Shaquille was alleged to have kicked the ball away in anger by referee James Unwin. Just one minute later Mike Thompson found his way into the referee’s book, again for kicking the ball away. This decision was more questionable than the first, with Thompson making a clearance as the whistle was blown.
The near-side linesman made some offside calls that caused frustration to Bridlington captain Jake Day, who made his feelings known. The home fans made their voices heard after the third close-call offside was given against the Town forwards.
Perhaps the frustration of the decisions was the turning point for Town, as they began to rally and push more balls forward. The home supporters rallied their players forward and shouts of encouragement appeared to boost Town’s confidence.
Their confidence was rewarded on the 82nd minute when super-sub Joe McFadyen, replacing Nathan Modest just ten minutes prior, got himself onto the score sheet and opened the books for the season. Another tempting ball forward was found by McFadyen, who beat the offside trap and turned past keeper Toby Wells to slot the ball into an empty net.
Town’s pacey Shaquille McKenzie unfortunately picked up an injury in the build up of the goal, but with Town’s substitutes all made he was forced to try and kick on for the final ten minutes, plus injury time.
It didn’t take long for Garforth to get themselves back into the game. Just five minutes later the Garforth winger found himself in acres of space down the left. His pin-point ball found Devonte Morton who managed to get his shot past several last-gasp attempts to clear and hit the back of the net.
With the game looking to finish with both teams leaving with a point the game entered stoppage time. After plenty stoppages during the second half the referee allowed play to continue for a considerable time. It was at around the fourth minute of stoppage time that Town stole the points.
Another great play forward managed to give a free header to the unmarked McFadyen. His powerful header landed inches away from the outstretched fingers of Garforth’s Wells. Thunderous cheers erupted from the Town fans as McFadyen. on his first league appearance for Town, robbed the visitors.