Saturday’s opposition in focus - Bridlington are the Leicester City of the NCEL title race

Bridlington Town v Worksop Town
Bridlington Town v Worksop Town
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Bridlington Town are the Leicester City of this season’s NCEL title race – it’s easy to write off their credentials but the longer they stay among the front runners, the more seriously they have to be taken.

In previous years, you’d have likened them to Arsenal. Lots of pretty football but a habit of getting turned over when the going got tough against the division’s more physical teams.

However, the side who visit Sandy Lane to face Worksop on Saturday have developed much more steel this year, proved by away wins at places like Cleethorpes, Clipstone and Handsworth that were about hard work and battling qualities as much as pretty passing.

The obvious reason to count the Seasiders out is that they have played considerably more games than all of their title rivals.

However, they won’t have the prospect of playing two or three times every week towards the end of the season if winter weather takes hold in the next few weeks.

Town’s is a very young squad, but this could be as much of a strength as a weakness.

Captain Tom Fleming, well known to most referees at this level, is one of only three players still involved from the squad which won the league in 2010.

Only four or five have long-term experience at NCEL level with the rest of the players being only 19 or 20 years of age.

Alan Hansen might have written them off, but the youngsters appear to be relishing the job of proving people wrong.

The key figure could be manager Gary Allanson, who was in charge six years ago when Bridlington claimed the title.

Things looked bleak in October when Town lost three games in a row without scoring and lost striker Lewis Clarkson to a long-term injury.

But he brought in teenager Andy Norfolk who has scored at roughly a goal a game, and they have now lost only once in 17 games in league and cup - and that was thanks to an injury time goal by leaders Tadcaster.

Allanson said: “We are experienced enough not to get carried away, our feet are firmly on the ground. It is going to be a rollercoaster ride and let’s see where we end up.

“It is the players’ responsibility not to waste a great opportunity of having a fantastic, successful season.”

Bridlington are the outsiders, but they’ll probably be quite happy with that tag.