Match Report: Shirebrook Town FC 1-1 Eccleshill United FC
Eccleshill managed to make it five games unbeaten on Saturday afternoon, but will be disappointed they didn't take all three points.
The Eagles had to battle hard to preserve their unbeaten run in Shirebrook on Saturday afternoon, and they did exactly that to gain a hard earned point in a 1-1 draw, against an industrious Shirebrook Town side.
Eccleshill had some enforced changes to make for the game, with skipper Sam Bradley and tricky winger Matty Waller both missing due to other important commitments. Liam Hudson stepped up to pair Matt Mathers at the back, and the returning Luke Harrop played on the wing to replace Waller. Dominic Smith was also away which meant a recall for Mark Bower in between the sticks.
The away side started the game brightly, and almost took the lead in the sixth minute through a driven long range effort, which was fizzing into the bottom left corner by Matt Stor, but the strike was well tipped away by the Shirebrook goalkeeper.
It was Eccleshill again threatening on the counter three minutes later, after they broke from a Shirebrook corner. Harrop hooked a clearance down the line to Marcus Edwards who did well to hold off his man and break into the box, but he was unable to find anyone with his cross and the move broke down.
Shirebrook had their first major chance in the 17th minute, when their winger managed to break down the left flank, and his driven cross attempt from the byline cannoned off Mark Bower's near post and went out for a goal kick.
The home side seemed to be boosted by that chance and started growing into the game more, which resulted in another half chance in the 25th minute. A long ball was not dealt with properly by the Eccleshill defence and it broke to a Shirebrook midfielder on the edge of the box, but his shot was well over.
The Eagles would have the best chance of the half a couple of minutes later however, and it came from a dead ball. Harrop whipped in a brilliant cross from an indirect free kick on the left side of the pitch, which found Jonny Irving.
Irving did well to win the header and it looked as though it would be nestling in the bottom left, but the Shirebrook shot stopper came to their rescue again and managed to tip it round the post for a corner.
There were no more major talking points in the rest of the half, with the only real chance after the Irving header being a Harrop free kick on the edge of the box, which was driven low but blocked on it's way through.
Shirebrook made the best possible start to the second half, taking the lead inside the first minute of the restart.
The Eccleshill midfield were slow to release the ball, and it was stolen away by a Shirebrook midfielder, in what looked like an over zealous challenge that could easily have been a foul. The midfielder drove on though and did extremely well to slot the ball into the bottom left corner from outside the box to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
Going a goal down seemed to spur Eccleshill on, and Harrop went close in the 49th minute. After winning the ball on the right flank, he went past three players and broke into the box, but his shot was scuffed just wide of the near post.
Charlie Flaherty was the next Eagles player to go close, but his fierce strike from a free kick on the edge of the box curled just wide of the top right hand corner in the 51st minute.
It was a second debut made for Liam Bartle in the 58th minute, when he came on to replace Anil Singh and aimed to make an impact on the game.
Similarly to the first half, the second half was largely uneventful and the next talking point was Eccleshill's equalizer in the 67th minute.
A brilliant driven through ball down the centre of the pitch found it's way to Harrop, who did well to get the ball under control on the bobbly and hilly surface. He drove into the box and waited for the keeper to commit before slotting it around him for his 20th goal of the season.
Although the equalizer breathed new life into Eccleshill's players, the hosts were doing their best to slow down the game and subdue the Eccleshill pressure on their defence.
The Eagles battled hard for the rest of the game but struggled to make many clear cut opportunities, something that could be attributed to the playing surface, which made it difficult for Eccleshill to play their usual fast paced passing game.
The final major chance fell to substitute Ethan Labad in the dying embers of the game, he headed a whipped cross goalwards from the centre of the box, but the Shirebrook keeper somehow managed to tip it onto the bar from point blank range, denying some late drama.
All in all a point each was a fair reflection on the game, and The Eagles showed determination and character to be able to dig deep and fight hard to keep their unbeaten run in tact.
They will now turn their attention to Wednesday nights rearranged fixture at home to Yorkshire Amateurs, where Sean Regan will be hoping his side can show similar fighting spirit to gain all three points this time.