Badgers denied by last-gasp goal

DAN Gardner’s last-gasp goal denied Eastwood their first win since October in a remarkable game at Droylsden on Tuesday night.

Blue Square Bet North

DROYLSDEN 3

Dale Johnson 30, 63

Dan Gardner 90

EASTWOOD TOWN 3

Josh Burge 64

David Haggerty 67, 76

by Paddy Farrell

DAN Gardner’s last-gasp goal denied Eastwood their first win since October in a remarkable game at Droylsden on Tuesday night.

The Badgers had recovered from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 thanks to three goals in 12 minutes, but a disastrous end to the game saw Kallum Keane sent off before Gardner struck.

On a rain-soaked surface Eastwood had an early chance when Mitch Hanson’s free-kick was lost by home keeper Paul Phillips in a goalmouth skirmish but Lewis Killeen hacked clear.

Ian Deakin was quickly in action following a fluent right flank build-up which provided Ciaran Kilheeney with a tempting target. Deakin bravely dived out to block away the experienced striker’s close-range shot.

Following a sustained spell of pressure created by Droylsden’s impressive ability to retain possession, Eastwood had several near escapes and the visitors’ growing frustration brought a yellow card for Alex Troke for a blatant tug on an opponent’s shirt.

Out of the blue Jevaise Christie then had two promising chances, but first over-ran the ball when fed clear and then failed to make anything of Paul Riley’s astute pass into space.

Eastwood’s overworked – often overrun – defence coped well with three successive left-side corners, the last of which was somehow blocked behind by Troke. The fourth set-piece proved decisive as Dale Johnson converted in 31 minutes.

For the rest of the half Eastwood somehow survived relentless home advances with Deakin bringing off a series of good saves and Keane probably relieved to get only a yellow card for a wild sliding challenge.

Gregg Simmons had shown good touches and livened up the re-start with a powerful right-side run and perceptive pull-back in which Christie might have shown more interest.

On the hour mark. Droylsden probably deserved their two-goal cushion but Deakin clearly showed his disgust when Johnson’s shot beat him on his near post

But Eastwood got a quick boost as 17-year-old Simmons showed his potential with a surge past two defenders and a teasing cross calmly converted by Joshn Burge for 2-1.

Eastwood responded and when David Haggerty knocked in Hanson’s free-kick in 65 minutes, what had looked a runaway home win was suddenly tied at 2-2.

And just minutes later the turnaround was complete, as a duplicated set-piece saw Haggerty again ghost in to smack Hanson’s delivery past Phillips.

Steve Istead, who had replaced Troke at half-time, tried to calm things down but, when Simmons had to limp off after a really good stint, Eastwood really came under stress.

A madly frenetic siege of Deakin’s goal, headlined by corner after corner, was heroically resisted but, when Keane got a second yellow dead on normal time, ten very tired visitors finally succumbed as Gardner nipped in to notch the equaliser.

In an announced five minutes injury-time which stretched to seven, Eastwood’s courage was amazing and every exhausted survivor a real hero.

Eastwood: 1 Ian Deakin 2 Kallum Keane 3 Chris Shaw 4 Josh Burge 5 David Haggerty 6 Sam Benjamin 7 Jevaise Christie 8 Mitch Hanson (C) 9 Gregg Simmons (Danny Elliott 78) 10 Alex Troke (Steve Istead 45) 11 Paul Riley Subs not used: Ashley Noble Att: 175

Best Badger: David Haggerty