By Richard Lusmore
Easington United 2
Bridlington Town Rovers 8
On an afternoon reminiscent of some of last season’s worst performances, the Eastenders were humbled 2-8 at home by a rampant Bridlington Town Rovers side.
Three down inside the opening 10 minutes, the locals then shipped three in nine minutes either side of the break before two more in the last five minutes of the game completed an afternoon to forget.
Manager Craig Smalley, who in the wake of his team’s home defeat by Brandesburton the previous week had said he was tired of “hard luck stories”, was almost lost for words after this latest reverse.
Similar to his players (and this match reporter and most of those home supporters present) he was probably left numb by what he’d seen unfold before his eyes.
An Easington squad that looked strong on paper (albeit a man light on the bench) appeared determined beforehand to bounce back from what was felt by some to have been an unfortunate loss the previous week. In his parting words prior to kick-off, Smalley encouraged his players to be confident, get on the ball and show what they could do. In the event, they were three goals down before they had even had chance to do so.
A type of disbelief at what I witnessed has hampered any accurate descriptions of the opening salvo. I was making my way behind Lloyd Mulholland’s goal inside the first minute of the game when the ball was quickly transferred from Brid’s right to left and Jake Lister steered it past the debutant keeper inside the far post. Mulholland’s first real feel of the ball was therefore made in retrieving it out of his net.
He would come to get many more, not just in a similar manner but also in the production of some fine saves, without which the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing. The visitors doubled their lead on six minutes, courtesy of Ashford Dowson’s far post finish after wonderful work by Isa Keegan down Brid’s left.
The nightmare start continued and on 10 minutes it was 0-3. After possession had again been coughed up cheaply, there was a hint of offside about the first shot which cannoned back off the post but no doubt about
Lister’s subsequent finish for his second of the game. If there is any modicum of positivity to take from the afternoon, it came during the next half an hour, when the locals at least threatened to make a fist of things – but not before Archie Brown’s lob was close to making it four.
Liam Murrey’s shot that fizzed narrowly wide on 21 minutes was the Eastenders’ first attempt of any note. But at least it sparked his team into life and after Mulholland had denied the lively Keegan at the other end, United finally produced some sustained pressure on the Bridlington goal.
From a succession of corners, Dan Shearer’s header was scrambled away by keeper Harry Connelly before Chris Frost’s shot was similarly blocked. Frost himself took the next corner and delivered a wonderful, vicious in-swinger to which the arriving Ciaran Collins applied the perfect finish. 1-3, game on…perhaps?
And for a time it was.
The stretching Adamson flicked a Murrey cross just wide, another corner was scrambled away and then Frost headed wide as United began to sense a second. Instead, they were hit by a double sucker-punch at the other end.
After Mulholland had produced big saves to thwart Keegan and Lister, Archie Brown bagged a brace to seal the points before the break; first drilling home from 20 yards on 40 minutes then notching at the second attempt from an acute angle right on the stroke of half-time.
Any Easington hopes of mounting the most unlikely looking comeback evaporated within four minutes of the restart. Again there was more than a hint of offside in the build-up but no doubting the finish as Dowson doubled his tally.
The visitors were then denied further goals by some excellent saves from Mulholland but would eventually add a seventh when Kieran Jordan fired home on 81 minutes and Jordan Shaw scored the eighth just four minutes later.
In-between, the locals had a bit of a go. Jack Wright headed wide, before Connelly denied both Wright and Frost in the same move. Adamson again failed to find the target with a close-range flick while the locals’ best move of the game, on 64 minutes, saw Collins rattle the bar with a thumping strike from Wright’s chest down.
There was still time for Wright to latch on to Adam Smith’s 87th minute free kick before steering home Easington’s second, but the lack of any celebration said it all.
Taking nothing away from the visitors (who assistant manager Mark Richardson described as “the best side we’ve played so far this season”) this was a United performance of the level that can never be repeated again this term. That is unless the locals are bracing themselves for another very long, hard slog of a season.
Lloyd Mulholland’s feats in keeping the score down ensured he was the obvious recipient of the R & A Smith Builders Ltd managers’ man of the match award, as well as the players’ choice too.
Easington: Lloyd Mulholland, David Nolan (Bowden, 61), Brad Bowden (Adam Smith, 55), Ciaran Collins, Tom Ward (Harry Anderson-Richardson, 55), Andrew Graham (Nolan, 67), Chris Frost, Adam Smith (Jack Wright, 34), Matt Adamson, Liam Murrey, Dan Shearer