Eastwood lose opening day clash at Newark
Eastwood CFC got their UCL Premier North campaign under way with a 3-1 defeat at Newark FC on Tuesday night.
The opening exchanges were cagey and uninspiring, interrupted only by the constant shrilling of ref Mr Bainbridge's whistle who was not shy to exert his authority.
The home side could, and probably should, haver taken an early lead after just five minutes when big defender Tom Street met a right wing corner with a powerful header which just cleared Mark Rathbone's goal.
Eastwood grew into the game and Sam Moore came close to opening the scores as he cleverly lobbed a defender in the six yard box but 'keeper Joe Searson managed to clear with some difficulty.
Youngster Luis Parkes then tried his luck after being played in by Ben Hutchinson. Street, however, cleared the goalbound shot with his legs.
The midfield duel of cat and mouse continued with no real last third chances but midway through the half Eastwood went mightily close. McKenna Parton played in Moore whose certain goal was denied as Basford United loanee Jordan Haywood cleared the ball off the line with Searson well beaten.
The pace began to warm up and visiting skipper Danny Meadows tried his luck from distance before at the other end, Lavell White went close with a snap shot.
The deadlock was finally broken after 36 minutes. Following a free-kick out far wide right the ball wasn't cleared with any conviction and midfielder Jammy Lloyd pounced to slide the ball home to give Newark the lead.
The Highwaymen sensed blood and within two minutes Rathbone reacted brilliantly to keep out a Dean Freeman shot and seconds later substitute Mustapha John rattled Eastwood's bar.
Eastwood were shaken by Newark's forward late surge band and seemed to be glad to get into the dressing room.
Early play in the second period was better for the visitors and it took only three minutes to level the scores as Parton was in the right place to fire home after good approach play from Jermain Hollis.
Newark's attacks were now few and far between but they were winning lots of second balls in midfield which blunted Eastwood's momentum. On 65 Hollis crossed for Finn Hunter who headed just wide.
A minute later came a sucker punch - a loose ball was picked up some 20 yards out by Kuwsi Ofushine who fired through a sea of legs past the desperate dive of Rathbone.
Six minutes later and the game was all but done as ex-Notts County junior Romello Nangle pounced and struck home his side’s third goal.
A flurry of half chances from both sides followed but there were no further scores.
Newark just about shaded it for their second half performance. The Red Badgers know they can play better than this and this was a learning curve and they will know that there will be no easy games at this level.
Eastwood captain Jack Andrews said: “It was hugely disappointing tonight – in spells we did well but we have to do the ugly side a lot more and compete for the second balls a little better.
"We need to get a little wiser in tracking runners. They were direct and picked up second balls and we need to cope with that and clear our lines.
"We need to dust ourselves down and go again on Saturday - a big game away in the FA Cup. It’s another tough game but we're going all out for the win."
Eastwood Man of the Match: Luis Parkes