Crowds flock to see Shepherd shine

Arran Reid clears the ball under pressure from Ryan Blott   Pictures: James Hunter
Arran Reid clears the ball under pressure from Ryan Blott Pictures: James Hunter
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PICKERING Town hit top form to beat NCEL premier title-chasers Scarborough Athletic at Mill Lane on Saturday.

Boro looked to be cruising to yet another success as they moved two goals clear after just 12 minutes, but the wheels soon came off the visitors’ juggernaut.

Pikes' Dean Readman takes the ball away from Boro's James Bennett

Pikes' Dean Readman takes the ball away from Boro's James Bennett

The Boro back-line struggled to cope with the lively Liam Shepherd and fellow attacker Liam Salt, who spent much of the game struggling with a hamstring strain.

The beginning of the game was a totally different story from the climax, with Boro flying out of the blocks due to a pair of delightful finishes.

Former Pickering player Robbie Hawkes’ dancing run after eight minutes freed up some space for fellow midfielder James Bennett, who bent the ball neatly past Pickering keeper Arran Reid.

The advantage was doubled just four minutes later when Ryan Blott was fed on the left, he outpaced the defence and rolled into the back of the net.

Boro could have driven a much bigger cushion between themselves and their rivals, but Reid saved well from Hawkes and Tony Hackworth’s header sailed just wide.

As good as Boro were on the attack, their defensive play seemed a hugely distant second, as the Pikes, led forward by Shepherd, just had too much pace for their visitors.

The three-pronged Boro defence parted like the Red Sea when Salt latched onto a ball down the middle and the striker finished well under Steve Wilson.

Shepherd then streaked clear after another error-strewn passage of play, but Plummer had the pace to make a saving challenge.

Shepherd kept his cool four minutes before the break though, beating Dave Kemp with ease and then drilling home into the bottom corner.

The crowd of 648, filled mainly with travelling fans, were probably expecting a second-half charge from Boro, but that failed to materialise.

Instead it was Pickering who continued to cause the problems, with Wilson saving well from Joe Danby after only seconds of the new period.

Blott did go close for Boro on a couple of occasions, but the Pikes managed to nudge their noses in front following more calamitous defending on the hour.

Boro turned like a row of super-tankers when Shepherd was dinked through on goal, and the former York City man made no mistake from the edge of the box.

The visitors should probably have levelled soon after when a Paddy Miller ball picked out Hackworth on the far post, but he dallied too long and Reid made a smart save.

Boro huffed and puffed in front of goal, but after that great chance they struggled to really test former Boro man Reid.

Pickering however looked a threat every time they pushed on, and salt was rubbed further into the wounds as the game ticked into injury-time when winger Hawkes was given his marching orders for a professional foul.