Defeat for Sleights throws league title race wide open

The third division title race was blown wide open after leaders Sleights lost their second league game of the season, at second-placed West Pier Reserves.

The Scarborough side are now just two points adrift of the summit, while third-placed FC SOBA are three away, with a game in hand.

James Howard’s Sleights did lead, however, on seven minutes, when Mark McCarthy’s nicely weighted through-ball was taken in his stride by Ben Watson, who rounded Scott Wardman and forced home despite the keeper’s partial parry.

But just seconds after netting his 30th goal of the season, Watson limped off with a hamstring pull and was to play no further part, with Pier adding insult to injury when Mike Barker made it 1-1 as Watson tried to run off the problem.

Simon Taylor replaced the Sleights forward, with Jake Faichney being pushed up front as the lone striker.

Kris Locker’s driven left-wing cross was then palmed out by Wardman, but Faichney scuffed wide on the volley.

Three headed goals in 13 minutes then stunned the visitors. First, Rob Speight beat Howard in the air to nod home Chris Weetman’s left-wing cross. Then, Jamie Scotter found the net from a corner and Speight repeated the dose, from a free-kick, six minutes before half-time.

At the other end, Andy Martin and Faichney were off target with similiar efforts.

Sleights began the second half purposefully and deservedly pulled one back, just after the hour, when Faichney’s header beat Wardman, from James Fawcett’s pinpoint inswinging free-kick.

Faichney then brought an acrobatic tip-over from Wardman, with a ferocious 18-yard drive.

The away side kept up the pressure but sole-marksman Barker was again their undoing with a lightning break and drilled finish for 5-2.

The villagers were handed a lifeline when Jamie Lee pushed Martin in the box, but Ian Smith’s penalty was saved low to his right by Wardman.

Speight effectively ended the contest and completed his hat-trick, 19 minutes from time, after another speedy attack left the frontman with plenty of time to slam a far-post scissor-kick past Coulson.

West Pier 6 Sleights 2