A LONG Eaton side with six teenagers in the starting line-up slipped to defeat against an organised Thackley on Saturday.
Northern Counties East Premier
Long Eaton Utd 1
A LONG Eaton United side with six teenagers in the starting line-up slipped to defeat against an organised Thackley side that benefited from two superbly struck free-kicks by Brice Tianni.
Ethan Winfield, Isaac Marshall and Zakk Hilton were all given first team debuts after suspension, injury and availability issues impacted the selection options open to joint manager Mick Galloway.
All three debutants have progressed through United’s youth ranks and linked up with their former youth team contemporaries, Michael Armstrong and Jacob Webster, who have already established themselves in the first team this season.
Eighteen year-old Will Mellors-Blair, who joined the club in the close season, completed the sextet of teenage starters in United’s line-up against Thackley, with seven other key first-team players out of action through injury and suspension.
During the first quarter of the game United’s forays into the opposition half were restricted to the occasional breakaway, with Mellors-Blair using his pace to try to release Hilton.
Thackley appeared to have more control but their efforts were stifled by United’s rear-guard and the exchanges were predominantly in midfield.
Just as United’s fledgling line-up appeared to become more settled they conceded a free-kick after 24 minutes when Dean Whiley was adjudged to have impeded Dean Walters on the edge of the area.
Thackley’s Tianni stepped up to fire his team ahead with a clever strike that went into the net after skimming the upright, with Ross Whalin in United’s goal seemingly unsighted.
The visitors almost had a second shortly afterwards when James Firth shot wide and Whalin was brought into further action on two occasions within a minute.
At the other end Mellors-Blair gave United some encouragement when he hit a shot from distance that thumped the bar and a deflected strike from Armstrong resulted in Matt Convey having to push a goalbound effort away.
Whalin was certainly the busier of the two ‘keepers and he had to make a further decent save from Davey before United got themselves back into the game with their most creative move of the match after 39 minutes.
With his back to goal, Kelvin Mushambi used his guile to retain possession before freeing the onrushing Jimmy Hunter, who took two further strides before firing his angled shot past Convey to level the game.
In the second-half United battled manfully to compete but it was clear that the visitors were the more prominent of the two sides.
Whalin was again forced to produce another good save, low down from Dean Walters, but there was little he could do five minutes later when a neat exchange ended with Davey producing a measured strike from just outside the penalty box that returned the lead back to Thackley.
Within ten minutes the visitors scored their third goal following another free-kick award, Tianni again on the mark with an even better strike than his opening goal, this time from 25 yards.
To their credit United continued to try to find a route back into the game but their efforts lacked the penetration needed against a resolute Thackley side.
Winfield did have a late effort from long-range and an award for a penalty for United was overturned after consultation with a linesman.
United: halin, Webster, Whiley (c), Marshall, Winfield, Hunter (Ball) Breach, Armstrong, Mushambi (Ganderson), Mellors-Blair, Hilton (Hooley)
l Long Eaton are in FA Vase first round action on Saturday when they travel to Arnold Town, kick-off 3pm.