Resilient Eastwood lose out in thriller

Eastwood midfielder Danny Elliott (left) breaks forward against Witton.  (Photo by Brian Eyre/ NEAA 10-11-12 BE 15)
Eastwood midfielder Danny Elliott (left) breaks forward against Witton. (Photo by Brian Eyre/ NEAA 10-11-12 BE 15)

Eastwood Town 3 Witton Albion 4

Eastwood’s inexperienced side put on a superb battling display to frighten the life out of Witton Albion on Saturday but eventually fell just short.

With talk of a takeover rife and owner Steve Lynch intimating it could be concluded within a couple of weeks, defender Chris Shaw was handed the short-term manager’s role and, being suspended, he named a rather young looking Eastwood side.

The Badgers made a good confident start, taking the game to their opponents and forcing a series of corners.

However, it was from one of these that the visitors drew first blood. A quick break down the right saw the Eastwood defence make a real hash of clearing their lines and Shaun Tuck had the simple task of nodding home Daniel Andrews’ cross at the far post.

To their credit the goal didn’t knock the Badgers out of their stride and was no surprise when they equalised 11 minutes later.

A well-worked move down the Eastwood right involving Jake Green and Alex Troke ended with Troke firing a beauty in off the far post.

Four minutes later the Badgers were in front and Green was again the architect. Getting to the by line he pulled back a dangerous cross which Witton defender Paul Booth inadvertently turned into his own net under pressure from Ewan Clarke.

Both sides had a good chance to score before the break. Paolo Piliero could have extended the lead but headed Gary Breach’s inviting cross over and Booth had a header well saved by Rhys Watkinson.

Witton came out in the second-half determined to take the game to their opponents and Piliero produced a great last ditch tackle to deny Ashley Stott.

But they looked vulnerable on the break and Greg Simmons was denied by a good save from Matthew Cooper.

Stott and Tuck both missed good openings for Albion before Eastwood suffered a blow when Breach retired hurt having marshalled the defence superbly.

And worse was to follow because Witton took full advantage as the Badgers were regrouping.

A through ball saw Travis Munn too relaxed while shepherding the ball back to the keeper and Steve Foster nipped in on the blind side, latching onto the ball to equalise.

Three minutes later Tuck gave the visitors the lead, beating Eastwood’s offside trap and running through to chip the advancing keeper.

To their credit the Badgers didn’t allow their heads to drop and Witton only held the lead for two minutes. A quick break forced a corner which Troke headed home for an immediate reply.

But with time running out a desperate clearance from Witton keeper Cooper unintentionally set up a late attack and caught the Eastwood defence flat footed, and Tuck ghosted in unchallenged to score his third and Witton’s fourth and winning goal.

Sub Mitch Hanson was then sent off late in the game for a two-footed challenge as the visitors held on comfortably for the victory.

Eastwood: 1 Rhys Watkinson 2 Gary Breach (Mitch Hanson 60) 3 Josh Raven (Bradley Munn 78) 4 Romaine Graham 5 Travis Munn 6 Danny Elliott 7 Alex Troke 8 Jake Green 9 Ewan Clarke (Petter Aaser 81) 10 Greg Simmons 11 Paolo Piliero. Subs not used: Vijay Selvam, Dexter Atkinson

Scorers: Troke 20, 68, Booth 24og 
Witton: 1 Matthew Cooper 2 Anthony Gardner 3 Mathew Wood 4 Paul Alcock 5 Paul Booth 6 Anthony Sheehan (c) 7 Jamie Harrison 8 Joe Shaw (James Olly 58) 9 Shaun Tuck 10 Ashley Stott (Steve Foster 58) 11 Daniel Andrews (Josh Hancock 70) Subs not used: Mike Moseley, Adam Clayton

Scorers: Tuck 9, 66, 83, Foster 63

Att: 160 Ref: S Eagland Best Badger: Josh Raven

by Andy Cope