NCEL: Tadcaster Albion 1-1 Bridlington Town: Danny Gray rescues leaders

hsb  Tadcaster Albion striker Danny Gray.  (120721M4b)
hsb Tadcaster Albion striker Danny Gray. (120721M4b)

Danny Gray’s first goal since returning to the i2i Stadium rescued a point for Tadcaster Albion against a spirited Bridlington Town.

The second-half substitute smashed home a 61st minute equaliser to deny the Seasiders instant revenge over Tadcaster, who had stolen the points in the reverse fixture 3-2 last weekend.

Bridlington had been by far the better team of the opening stages and deservedly led through Chris Jenkinson’s header.

Albion were reliant on man of the match Peter Lawrie for preventing further damage with the goalkeeper producing a string of high quality saves.

Gray was introduced at half-time for the injured Josh Greening - last week’s match winner for Albion - and the bulldozing centre-forward powered home a crucial goal in Tad’s title crusade to ensure a share of the spoils.

New Year’s spirits were high in the visiting outfit in the opening exchanges and both Chris Adams and captain Tom Fleming brought saves out of Lawrie.

Tad, ten points clear in the Northern Counties East League prior to kick-off, were lacklustre in possession, and the waves of attack continued to flow in one direction.

Adams fired another good chance wide before Will Waudby broke the offside trap only to see his low shot deflected off Paddy Miller and onto the post.

From the ensuing corner, Brid took the lead. The ball dropped out to the edge of the area, and from Eddie Birch’s smart cross, Jenkinson turned the ball into the corner.

Albion were lamented by boss Paul Marshall from the sidelines, and the boss almost got the perfect response. From Carl Stewart’s knock down, David Brown clipped a shot over Brid keeper James Hitchcock but it rattled the bar and bounced to into the Brid defence.

Lawrie was then booked for racing out of his box to halt Ombeni Ruhanduka, despite the Brid forward taking the ball around the keeper and slicing his effort well wide.

Referee Colin Whitaker looked to have played advantage before bringing the game back and awarding Brid a free-kick, which Ruhanduka struck straight at Lawrie.

The home goalkeeper was the star-piece of the first half, and he produced another superb low save to deny Adams doubling Brid’s lead close to the interval.

Albion lacked continuity, and it showed when Stewart took his only chance on goal much too early and volleyed a tame shot towards Hitchcock’s left.

Gray’s introduction at the break gave Albion more of a physical unit up front, and from it, they were able to retain the ball higher up the field.

However, Bridlington continued to find ways through the home defence and Fleming forced another point-blank save out of Lawrie inside the opening minutes of the second period.

With the game opening up, Tad started to find space inside the Brid midfield. However, their final ball often floundered.

That was until the ball fell loose inside the area, and Gray met it perfectly to lash passed Hitchcock and send the large home support into a frenzy.

The powerful striker, who re-joined Tad from Selby Town before Christmas, could have stolen all the points late on too, but he sent a left-footed shot wide with only defenders on the line before heading a free-kick wide.

A draw was a fair reflection of a scrappy but open affair, and it leaves Albion nine points clear at the top having played three matches more than second-placed Staveley Miners Welfare.