GATE HOLD ON TO DENY MIKES
With Boldmere having won all 9 of their previous home games and Gate on a run of 13 games unbeaten, someone's record was about to come to an end...
Manager Lee Adams will have been more than happy with what might be considered a “bonus” point against third placed Boldmere St Michaels, his much depleted side sacrificing a two goal lead before succumbing to inevitable home pressure but with the Mikes failing to make the most of their chances against a line up missing seven first team regulars, including the “B” force of leading scorers Lei Brown and Shane Benjamin.
Brown’s one match ban for accumulating five yellow cards. Injuries and sickness to Joe Adams and Nathan Pulisciano and the non availability, mainly through work commitments, of Daryl Jones, Craig Hall, Shane Benjamin and Trevor Edwards left Gate’s boss with just the bare bones, and although able to recall Karl King, Danny Charlton and Danny Hicks numbers were thin with just Jordan Adams and the only part fit Tom Reynolds on the bench.
First half goals from Dean Curtis and Richard Robinson earned Gate the draw which keeps them top and extends an unbeaten league run to fourteen games, and having come away relatively unscathed from what was always going to be a difficult test Adams can now look forward to being able to pick from a full squad for the imminent New Year run in. The hosts applied early pressure, Tom Lacey heading a bouncing ball back to keeper Chris Jay with Ryan Edmunds on his tail, Jay then confidently holding on to Rob Clarke’s cross delivered to the far post.
Home custodian James Beeson did equally well in saving Danny Rolfe’s corner from under his cross bar, a second 18th minute corner leading to the first goal. Nathan Edgington won the flag kick, the ball floated beyond defenders King nodded down and Robinson was on hand to despatch his own header beyond Beeson into the top corner. Reynolds was soon on to replace the injured Leon Blake, Boldmere enjoying a good spell Jay down to save from Jason Holmes after some neat build up play, Clarke and Chris Neilson both driving twenty yard free kicks over the heads of forwards but carelessly out of play.
Although not pretty to watch Gate’s play under the circumstances was proving effective, Beeson flapping Curtis’ cross to King’s feet then blocking the close range attempt with his body, the Mike’s defence again proving vulnerable at corners when Curtis extended the lead, rising to head powerfully in off Rolfe’s perfectly flighted 28th minute kick.
Jay’s goal survived a moment of luck when Adam Wood toe poked the ball over the face of goal with no Boldmere forward alert enough to finish, but Gate were working hard to hold on to what they must have felt a surprise lead, Reynolds and Robinson quick to close down in midfield and Curtis and fellow centre half Hicks solid at the heart of defence. Curtis calmly found Jay with a back pass under pressure from Edmunds but resilient Gate continued to have their moments at the other end, Edgington heading Rolfe’s free kick into Beeson’s hands, a foul on Charlton leading to King hooking Rolfe’s dead ball kick into Beeson’s body. Hicks was again cool under pressure finding Jay under threat from Lee Osbourne, Reynolds well placed to clear Edmunds low driven cross at the foot of his left hand post, Jay then getting a firm fist to the resulting corner.
Beeson held on to yet another Rolfe cross at the second attempt, but just seconds away from the half time whistle Gate were to be undone, Clarke curling the ball round the wall and inside Jay’s right hand post from a free kick awarded after Simon Maye had been sent tumbling just outside the twelve yard area, the goal coming at the worst possible time and certain to test the visitors’ resolve after the break.
HT: Boldmere St Michaels 1 v 2 Highgate United.
The Mike’s came out for the second half on the front foot Edgington back to head away an early corner and scorer Clarke blasting a half chance high over the bar. Gate quickly had an opportunity of their own, Charlton’s persistence winning a corner headed on by Edgington to the far post where King nudged the loose ball straight at a grateful Beeson. Inevitable pressure from the home side saw Andrew Lewis slip the ball through the Highgate defence Osbourne dragging his shot narrowly off target, but the leveller was not long in coming Jason Holmes heading in unchallenged off a 56th minute corner.
Gate were by now finding it difficult to get into the game, and although Beeson was left untroubled by Reynolds’ close range header, all the pressure was towards Jay’s goal, Holmes well wide from long range and Ricky Baker and Edmunds both rattling the cross bar within thirty seconds of each other. Gate though survived King finishing off their best move of the half with a powerful shot driven into Beeson’s midriff following good hold up play by the industrious Reece Lynch.
Curtis slid in to dispossess substitute Kirk Smith, centre-half Woods’ blushes spared by an off side flag after striking the ball beyond an open goal. Lynch displayed pace not matched by a finish blocked by Beeson, the Mikes finishing strongly but only Osbourne’s late looping effort going any where near denying Gate a hard earned but fully deserved share of the spoils, a vociferous and excitable home bench finally silenced in the knowledge that they had wasted a great opportunity of narrowing the points gap on the leaders.
Highgate United: Jay; Charlton; Lacey; Blake (Reynolds 8); Hicks; Curtis; Rolfe; Robinson; King; Edgington; Lynch Substitute not used: Adams (Jordan)
Boldmere St Michaels: James Beeson; Peter Gould; Ricky Baker; Chris Neilson; Adam Wood; Ross Clarke; Simon Maye; Andrew Jason Holmes Ryan Edmunds; Lee Osbourne; Substitutes: Alex Forde; Kirk Smith; William Perkins; Maul Rose; Jonathan Brown