Boro beat Colne to net promotion
As Scarborough Athletic fans streamed onto the pitch at the final whistle, the celebrations started to break out in the top corner of the pitch. Chants of “We are going up!” rang out around the Colne ground in the warm April sunshine, as the travelling fans basked in the knowledge that their side had achieved promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
For the supporters of the Seadogs, it was a celebration of achieving the main aim of promotion following a season to remember, a campaign when the club returned back to play in Scarborough after ten years in exile in Bridlington. With the league restructure giving the incentive of extra promotion places this season, there was also a sense of relief at moving up a division after five years since the famous scenes at Brighouse that led to the promotion from the NCEL Premier Division.
The 400 travelling supporters in Lancashire outnumbered the average league attendance of that final season at Queensgate, packed mainly into the covered terrace at the top of the slope at Holt House.
It was hardly plain sailing though for Scarborough, as they fell behind early on and had to fight their way back into the game.
After naming an unchanged side that battled past Colwyn Bay on Tuesday, Boro gave their opponents too much time on just four minutes, with Colne working the ball neatly across to the left for Alex Curran to slam in a low drive that looked to take a slight deflection off defender Bailey Gooda as it hit the back of the net.
It was not the start Boro boss Steve Kittrick had demanded from his players and they pushed to get back into the game down the slope, but if anything, this worked against them as on several occasions the ball ran on down the slope and out for a goal kick.
It was not long before the visitors were back on level terms though, as on 15 minutes Max Wright was heading out of the penalty area to the right flank when he was sent sprawling to the floor by the Colne defender Lee Pugh. It was a needless foul that presented a chance to equalise and was taken with both hands.
Instead of Michael Coulson stepping up to take the penalty, it was James Walshaw who assumed duties to send the spot-kick into the bottom left hand corner and level up at 1-1.
After Coulson had lifted an effort over the bar after turning inside, at the other end Bradley Knox bent a low shot agonisingly wide with Tommy Taylor a spectator as it flashed past the post.
The game drifted towards the break and the Boro management team revved the players up again for the second half against the play-off contenders.
Athletic were attacking up the slope in the second half, but they were attacking towards the bulk of the travelling support.
The second half saw the balls that had run out of play down the hill in the first half were now sitting up and allowing Boro to control the game more and play in Colne territory.
Just 8 minutes into the second half a good move down the left saw Dave Merris cross for Walshaw to angle a header at goal from 12 yards. It beat the dive of Hakan Burton but pinged down off the crossbar, with Max Wright running in to apply the finishing touch and celebrate in front of the delirious Boro fans.
Despite falling behind for the first time in the game, Colne found another gear and Gary Stopforth was unlucky when his effort across goal took a deflection that flashed the wrong side of the post. From the resulting corner, a sea of Colne players descended on the 6-yard box, with several outstretched legs unable to get a meaningful touch and Tommy Taylor gratefully receiving the ball as it bounced through to him.
Max Wright and Walshaw both had efforts blocked just as they were set to pull the trigger in the box, with the Grimsby Town winger needing treatment after taking a boot on his leg in the melee and shortly afterwards going off in place of Jamie Price.
As the minutes crept on it looked like Scarborough could be set for a tense finale, but with 13 minutes to go the promotion party started as James Walshaw added a third.
Coulson played a brilliant ball round the corner that released Walshaw in on goal, and with only the keeper to beat, the striker waited for Hakan Burton to go to ground before delicately chipping over the keeper and sparking wild scenes of celebration. It was a finish that reflected why Walshaw was brought into the club midway through the season, as when the ball falls to him in the box, he resonates a calm and focused demeanour and a hunger for goals that allows him to find the back of the net when needed.
There was still time for the dangerous Curran to force a terrific flying save from Tommy Taylor but the third goal settled the game as a contest and the boisterous away fans started a countdown to the final whistle, nearly toppling a wooden fence around the pitch in the celebrations following the third goal.
The final whistle was the prompt to begin an outpouring of joy, emotion and celebration as players, management, officials and supporters all came together to mark the occasion.
With two league games to go, the job is far from complete, with Steve Kittrick and Mark Hume both reiterating that they want to finish second in the final standings and will be looking for maximum points from the remaining home fixtures against Glossop North End and Ossett Albion.
But it was a day to savour, a moment to reflect and a memory to preserve for the supporters of the club as the Seadogs prepare to take another step up the footballing ladder next season.
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