Saturday, March 31, 2012
NCEL Premier Division
Brighouse Town 1
Long Eaton United 1
Long Eaton United went agonisingly close to ending their recent run of NCEL defeats when they led sixth-placed Brighouse Town until the final moments of the game, at which point Town levelled in the dying seconds.
The referee then ended the contest following the restart.
The hosts had come from behind to defeat United 2-1 at Grange Park less than three weeks ago and had also gained an impressive 7-1 success at Parkgate.
Leigh Warman was given his first start at the expense of Andy Rhodes in the United backline and Will Mellors-Blair was restored to a forward position in place of Matt Weightman, who found himself on the bench alongside Josh Hooley and Ethan Winfield.
The first half saw United forced onto the back foot for long periods and the Brighouse outfit clearly had the edge but strong individual performances from Isaac Marshall, Michael Armstrong, Dom Jones and Kial Thurman held the home side at bay.
United ‘keeper Scott Webb was also kept busy and produced an assured display.
When United were able to win their midfield battles, they created problems of their own and when the ball was lifted into the opposition box, United target-man Shaun Rickford unsettled the home defence on a number of occasions with his vigorous style in his most effective afternoon for some time.
At the interval, United were probably the more satisfied of the two teams with the game still level but, within 90 seconds of the restart, their expectations were raised when Mellors-Blair latched onto a ball from the right. Showing great composure, he fired low past Ben Imeson for his second goal in similar style in successive weeks.
The goal clearly stirred the home side and, as they began to create openings, Scott Webb’s influence on the game became even more prominent
Brighouse’s tricky wideman Leon Henry was causing problems with his pace and Thurman was forced to intervene on more than one occasion and the diminiutive home player was booked after one clash midway through the half that left Thurman in some distress.
During one brief spell, home centre-forward Danny Nadiole had two well-struck opportunities superbly thwarted by Webb and Danny Hull also produced an effort that lacked the necessary power.
As the game wore on, Warman was emerging with greater assurance and he too was the victim of an over-zealous challenge after 70 minutes that led to a further booking for the home side. Late in the contest, Thurman was forced to withdraw following his earlier clash with Henry and Winfield took his place in a re-shuffled rearguard.
With five minutes remaining, Webb pulled off his best save when he tipped a James Sutcliffe free-kick over the bar and, after the announcement of four added minutes, there were signs that United were well placed to take all three points for the first time in six NCEL fixtures.
However, it was not to be, as an excellent cross from the right was headed home with some power by substitute Shane Hamilton.
Though the timing was perhaps cruel, it produced a result that was no more than the home side deserved, though the game again illustrated the battling nature of Mick Galloway’s side.
United: Webb, Armstrong, Thurman (Winfield 78), Marshall, Warman, Jones, Webster, Hunter, Hancock (Weightman 62), Mellors-Blair, Rickford
l On Good Friday, United are at Thackley and have an even longer away trip on Bank Holiday Monday when play Pickering Town.