United lose by the odd goal in three yet again

Long Eaton's Matt Weightman (left) tries to take control during the match against Lincoln Moorlands on Saturday.
Long Eaton's Matt Weightman (left) tries to take control during the match against Lincoln Moorlands on Saturday.

LONG Eaton fell to their fourth successive 2-1 defeat as a low-key display saw them defeated by Lincoln Moorlands at Grange Park on Saturday.

NCEL Premier Division

Long Eaton United 1

Lincoln Moorlands 2

LONG Eaton fell to their fourth successive 2-1 defeat as a low-key display saw them defeated by Lincoln Moorlands at Grange Park on Saturday.

Moorlands arrived at in as equally poor form as United and had not won a league fixture on the road in their previous 14 games.

United themselves had only recorded one success in 14 NCEL matches prior to the meeting with Moorlands and both teams were in desperate need of a victory to ease their lingering relegation concerns.

United began the game with a five-man midfield, ensuring Shaun Rickford ploughed a lone furrow in a sole strike role, and Will Mellors-Blair was consigned to the substitute’s bench after appearing in the previous two games.

Kial Thurman also returned to the centre of United’s defence after being unavailable in midweek.

The visitors began the game the more cautious of the two sides and United pressed with some conviction in the early stages, though no clear-cut openings were carved out.

Jimmy Hunter was prominent in the centre of midfield as United made efforts to get the ball out to the flanks though invariably their progress stalled as passes went astray.

Michael Armstrong tried his luck from distance but his effort was safely gathered and Rickford was closed down on more than one occasion as he battled to give his side an edge.

The visitors began to become more of an attacking threat midway through the half, just as United’s frustrations at their own lack of progress began to manifest.

After a couple of scares in the United goalmouth, Moorlands were awarded a penalty after Thurman was adjudged to have upended Danny Hargreaves and despite protestations in the home ranks, Luke Forbes stepped up to send Scott Webb the wrong way and edge the visitors ahead.

Shortly afterwards, Armstrong diverted a cross from the right into his own net but, to the relief of United’s young defender, the goal was ruled out due to an offside decision which may have been fortunate for the home side.

Dominic Jones, United’s most effective player in the first-half, had two good attempts to get his team back into the game but Moorlands deservedly doubled their advantage moments before the break when Ben Garrick was given too much time in the box as he latched onto a headed pass from Ben Good to fire past Webb with some efficiency.

After the interval, Mellors-Blair replaced Andy Rhodes to take up a role on the wide left and Jones dropped back to fill the left-back position vacated by Rhodes.

Though United were a little more effective in the second-half, the visitors almost increased their lead after 58 minutes when Garrick rattled the crossbar after the ball had ricocheted around the penalty area.

Mellors-Blair began to cause some concern with his pace in the visitor rearguard and after 63 minutes he got between two defenders to strike the ball past the advancing Craig Turner with a degree of style and give his team some hope.

Despite periods of pressure, and a rising expectation amongst the Grange Park faithful that their team could draw level, the much-needed penetration was lacking and the visitors coped successfully with United’s efforts.

In the dying seconds, United ‘keeper Webb advanced forward and crashed a shot goal-wards, bringing appeals for a penalty as his effort struck a defender but the referee turned away and brought proceedings to an immediate end.

Defeat for United in their final home game against Maltby Main next month will result in equalling the club’s poorest ever home record, though the importance of the fixture against Maltby, who are currently second from bottom of the Premier Division, may have even more significance as their final three fixtures sees them meet the other sides in the bottom four places of the NCEL.

United: Webb, Armstrong, Thurman, Marshall, Rhodes (Mellors-Blair 45), Webster, Hunter, Hancock (Hooley 62), Jones, Weightman (Warman 60). Rickford

l On Saturday, United play Brighouse Town in the first of three difficult away fixtures before the important Grange Park fixture with Maltby Main.