Struggling Badgers suffer more woe

Eastwood's Steve Istead (left) gets involved during the defeat at Harrogate. Photo by Marcus Corazzi.
Eastwood's Steve Istead (left) gets involved during the defeat at Harrogate. Photo by Marcus Corazzi.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blue Square Bet North

HARROGATE TOWN 2

Stephen Turnbull 3

Luke Ashworth 55

EASTWOOD TOWN 1

Jevaise Christie 71

by Paddy Farrell

GOALS early in each half were the difference as Eastwood Town’s difficult season continued in North Yorkshire on Saturday.

The result left the Badgers four points from safety ahead of a tough run of league games in December, and new boss John Ramshaw still without a win after three matches in charge.

With the departure of Jake Sheridan to Lincoln City, Ramshaw brought Gavin Caines into a midfield role and recalled Jarrod Westcarr to the subs bench.

For much of this season, Eastwood’s instability at the back has seen them start with a one-goal handicap and, true to tradition, the visitors led in the third minute.

Lee Elam had gone close from the kick-off with a powerful run from left to right and a controlled shot which just cleared the crossbar.

The lesson was not learned and, when Paul Brayson played the ball wide Laurie Wilson’s simply squared low return found its target. Stephen Turnbull was splendidly isolated and his unchallenged advance and dramatic finish from 25 yards out left James Severn soaring towards but not too near the high swinging ball.

Encouragingly Eastwood, inspired by skipper Paul Riley, flew at the home defence.

The attacking full-back had one shot charged behind another ‘left’ by Mark Cook whose sigh of relief was audible, but, from his third effort, provided a clear equalising chance.

The recipient was Jason Bradley whose header from Riley’s free-kick was weakly wide.

Harrogate almost made that miss look worse but John Allan’s head, although stranding Severn, rebounded off a post.

Eastwood certainly should have equalised when good pressure from midfield panicked Luke Ashworth into a badly-underhit back pass.

Luke Edwards’ anticipation and instant reaction had Cook in real trouble but the striker, with every one-to-one attacking option open, somehow contrived to hit the side-netting.

With the half-time whistle looming, Severn had, at least twice, serious demands on his ability and produced good stops from Turnbull and Allan.

Interval thoughts were that Eastwood, from whom Westcarr for Caines was presumably an attacking ploy, had absorbed serious pressure, created two great chances and would probably live to regret that start.

The second-half opened with relentless home pressure and a series of often-carelessly conceded set-pieces paid off in 54 minutes.

Defender Chris Ratcliffe’s corner was headed on by Matt Bloomer and Ashworth became the third back-row man involved when his tap-in header made the score 2-0.

Brayson had the ball in the net but was patently offside and, after several more home near-misses, Jevaise Christie was brought on for Bradley.

Early, the newcomer linked up with Josh Burge, Steve Istead and the speedy Westcarr but the final pass was inches behind the eagerly-supporting Riley.

But a lifeline was thrown to the visitors with 20 minutes left.Sub Christie, roaming adventurously, ran through on the right and survived pressure before chancing his arm. It looked an impossibly tight angle but the shot squeezed past Cook and surely the fight was now on.

Strangely it just did not work out and, although the few Eastwood fans present roared encouragement, Harrogate had little trouble in seeing out time.

Cook had a couple of difficult catches to make but Severn was always busier and, in truth, Harrogate could have increased the margin.

Eastwood: 1 James Severn 2 Alex Troke (Sam Wood 77) 3 Paul Riley (c) 4 Aaron Mitchell 5 Sam Benjamin 6 David Haggerty 7 Steve Istead 8 Gavin Caines (Jarrod Westcarr 39) 9 Jason Bradley (Jevaise Christie 61) 10 Luke Edwards 11 Josh Burge Subs not used: Danny Elliott, Tom Manship.

Att: 314 Ref: J Tyas (Holmfirth)

Best Badger: Paul Riley