United end the season with a win and a draw

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Monday, May 2, 2011

NCEL Premier Division



by Ritchie Woods

Long Eaton United concluded their season with an entertaining game against Pickering Town at Grange Park on Monday.

Having led 2-0 at one stage, it was three defensive lapses that enabled the visitors back into a game in which United also thumped the woodwork three times during the second-half.

In sunny, blustery conditions, much the same as the game a week previously in Pickering, both teams adapted well to the swirling wind but it was the visitors who appeared to have the early impetus.

United’s left-back Paul McGinty, making his 366th and possibly final start for the club, was called into early action and twice cut out sharp passing moves from the Pickering midfield.

Goalkeeper Simon Baldwin made a save low to his left and Allsop prevented a developing situation with a clever interception after 15 minutes.

Slowly, United began to assert their own imprint on the game and Martin Bowles, Kelvin Mushambi and Michael Martin were often at the hub of matters.

A shot from distance by Nathan Parker tested Toby Wells in the visitors’ goal and Adam Campbell had a decent effort after Kev Mabon had provided an opening.

It was Mabon who created and scored United’s opener after 22 minutes when he was impeded as he worked his way into the box from the left. Following little protest from the Pickering players, Mabon dusted himself down to coolly fire the spot-kick past Wells.

United continued to be the more self-assured of the two sides and two minutes before the break a lofted ball into a dangerous area was met by Campbell who headed home from close range.

With the comfort of a two-goal lead, concentration was the key as half-time approached. But Pickering hit back within a minute following an uncharacteristic lapse in defence that allowed Tom Fenwick both time and space to slot his shot past the advancing Baldwin.

The goal clearly lifted the visitors as it was a hesitant United that emerged after the interval, highlighted when a mix-up between Allsop and Baldwin gifted Josh Greening a Pickering equaliser on 50 minutes.

To their credit, United regained control and pushed forward with renewed spirit.

As Mushambi came more and more into the game he created room for himself just after the hour mark and from 25 yards struck a wicked shot that Wells was unable to stop and United led again.

But it was a further lapse that led to an equaliser on 68 minutes when Fenwick added his second from close range during only Pickering’s second serious foray of the half.

Substitute Danny Chambers fired a rasping drive against the bar and a Dean Whiley header struck an upright with Wells well beaten.

Mushambi, Mabon and Adam Campbell all went close to edging United ahead and with time ebbing away, McGinty almost snatched a late winner but his powerful effort went wide and the game ended all-square.

The result ensured United finished their season in mid-table after perhaps too many drawn games during a low scoring campaign.

The game against Pickering was the first time they had scored more than twice in a league match at Grange Park all season and a fourth goal would have resulted in the club’s 3,000th league goal since their formation in 1956.

That distinction now awaits the first goal-scorer of the next campaign.

Long Eaton: Baldwin, Murdock (Webster 75), Allsop (King 78), Whiley, McGinty, Bowles, Parker (Chambers 42), Martin, Mushambi, Campbell, Mabon.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

NCEL Premier Division



by Ritchie Woods

UNITED’S final victory of the season had come at Nostell Miners Welfare on Saturday.

From the outset, United appeared the more likely side and Kelvin Mushambi and MartinBowles were both seeing plenty of the ball.

Kev Mabon went close early on and a Whiley header brought a decent save from Gav Ansley in the Nostell goal.

The deadlock was broken two minutes before the interval with perhaps the best move of the game.

An incisive ball from Dean Whiley found Mabon wide on the left and the striker evaded his marker to provide an opportunity for Mushambi. With work still to do, the United midfielder turned inside to fire a decisive strike through the narrowest of gaps and edge his team into a deserved lead.

Blaine Hancock was given his first appearance for United when he replaced Michael Armstrong after 68 minutes and the young striker looked lively immediately.

Within moments he wrestled himself free from the interest of a Nostell defender and fired a shot at the ‘keeper and shortly afterwards he almost set up an opportunity for Nathan Parker.

Late in the encounter, Bowles found space 25 yards out and fired a vicious shot that rapped the bar.

Despite a couple of goalmouth melees in their own box during the second-half, United’s rearguard held firm and after 88 minutes the game was made safe when substitute Elliott King shrugged off the attentions of a Nostell defender to fire a shot that deflected off the ‘keeper and into the net.

Long Eaton: Baldwin, Webster, Murdock, Whiley, McGinty, Armstrong (Hancock), Bowles, Parker, Mushambi, Campbell, Mabon (King)