Saturday, March 10, 2012
NCEL Premier Division
Long Eaton United 1
Pickering Town 3
Long Eaton United’s Saturday’s woes at Grange Park continued at the weekend when Pickering Town struck three second-half goals to consign them to their tenth home league defeat.
Following the midweek success against Liversedge, that ended a ten-match run without a victory, there was a degree of optimism prior to the encounter with Pickering, whose own form saw them arrive at Grange Park with only one defeat in six NCEL games.
Disappointingly, United’s display lacked the zip that was evident at times during their victory four days earlier.
The first 45 minutes saw United having the better of the exchanges but they lacked the cutting edge to take advantage and the visitors were eventually able to take control in the second period.
United’s opening forays saw Andy Rhodes getting forward from the left-back position and he fired in an early effort that flew wide of the visitors’ upright.
As United’s rearguard dealt with the potential threat from the Pickering forwards the hosts almost went ahead in bizarre circumstances when a mis-timed clearance from a defender looped dangerously close to the top corner of Adam Mitchell’s goal.
A storming run and cross from Matt Weightman midway through the half eluded the visiting defence and Shaun Rickford went agonisingly close to making a headed connection with Mitchell stranded.
At the opposite end, home ‘keeper Scott Webb was forced to make a low save in a congested area during a rare incursion by the visitors but after a bright start signs were emerging that United were beginning to toil and missing the creative spark that was needed to open up a visiting side that seemed somewhat jaded themselves.
The second-half saw Pickering produce a more concise passing game than they had in the opening half but much of the first ten minutes after the interval continued with both sides cancelling each other out in midfield.
Whilst United hoped, perhaps more than expected, to create a breakthrough, the visitors quickly ended any aspirations they may have had in an eight minute period that produced two simple goals either side of the hour mark.
Firstly, Carl Stewart pounced on a loose ball after the home defence was flat-footed to prod home Pickering’s opener and the same player increased the lead on 65 minutes in similar fashion.
United’s efforts to get back into the game were ineffective as they were unable to rally in any way that threatened the visitors, though an attempt from United’s best player, Jacob Webster, just cleared the bar with 15 minutes remaining.
After 80 minutes, Pickering benefited from more generosity from United when Russ Parker reacted first to a shot that was parried by Webb and knocked the ball into an empty net.
Blaine Hancock scored a late consolation for United with a well-timed half-volley under pressure and substitute Leigh Warman sent in a powerful header that was only inches off the target.
But it was all a clichéd case of ‘too little, too late’ as United produced their most attacking spell of the afternoon with the game already lost.
United: Webb, Armstrong, Thurman, Marshall, Rhodes, Weightman Webster, Hancock, Buick (Warman 82), Hooley (King 64). Rickford (Barton 67)
l Tuesday night saw more disappointment for United as they fell 2-1 at home to Brighouse Town.
After Shaun Rickford had given United a second-half lead, Brighouse scored twice in the final 20 minutes to leave Grange Park with all three points.
This Saturday United travel to face league leaders Bridlington Town, kick-off 3pm.