Saturday, November 12, 2011
Northern Counties East
Long Eaton United 0
Staveley Miners Welfare 1
A HOTLY-DISPUTED late penalty sent Long Eaton to defeat against high-flying Staveley.
It was the fifth home game running that United had hosted one of the NCEL’s leading sides, and as with the matches against Retford and Thackley, it was a solitary goal that was the difference.
In light of the grim contest that ensued, United started the game fairly brightly.
As early as the second minute Josh Hooley found room on the edge of the visitors box to strike a shot that was deflected high and wide for a corner and Zakk Hilton moved into space on the left to send over a dangerous cross that only just eluded the head of United’s leading scorer Shaun Rickford.
Following United’s early impetus, the game settled down into a dour pattern in which both sets of players fought for control but invariably only succeeded in conceding possession.
On the positive side, United defenders Dean Whiley and Chris Murdock were responsible for preventing the visitors from engineering any significant openings and it was a full 30 minutes before Ross Whalin was called in to make a save of note.
During the final 15 minutes of the first-half, Staveley became the more dominant of the two sides and did produce some neat football at times.
Whalin was forced to flick an awkward goal-bound effort over the bar and Gary Breach, Hooley and Paul Gamble were working hard in midfield to stem the flow of through balls to the visitors’ front men.
Michael Armstrong too, made some well-timed interceptions to eliminate the Staveley threat from the right.
Goalless at the interval, the main incidents of the game occurred in the second-half.
United’s Matt Weightman took advantage of a rare defensive lapse by the visitors to turn inside before firing his effort at the ‘keeper and a Gamble strike from 18 yards lacked the power and direction of his classy winning effort the week previous.
To most observers, the game seemed to be heading for a stalemate, even with 20 minutes remaining, but after a Staveley foray deep in United’s half the assistant referee signalled for an infringement just as United appeared to be clearing their lines.
Following a short consultation, the referee awarded a penalty for a handling offence, much to the distress of a number of United’s defenders and Whalin in particular.
Staveley’s top striker Ryan Damms stepped up to coolly despatch the spot-kick to Whalin’s left and edge his side in front.
United’s task was then compounded soon afterwards when Kelvin Mushambi, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes, was uncharacteristically dismissed for what the referee deemed a dangerous challenge.
Michael Martin and Will Mellors-Blair had both been introduced to aid United’s cause but the visitors defended sensibly and amidst a rash of late yellow cards it wasn’t until the final minute of the game that United produced their best effort of the match when a powerful shot from Gamble was tipped over the bar by the Staveley ‘keeper.
United: Whalin, Armstrong, Whiley (c), Marshall, Murdock, Hooley (Mushambi) Breach, Gamble, Hilton (Mellors-Blair), Rickford (Martin), Weightman
l Glapwell Tuesday.
l On Saturday United meet St Ives Town of the United Counties League in the second round of the FA Vase.
St Ives have won 11 of their last dozen games.