GATE FINALLY BOLD OVER!
The Gates magnificent home record finally stumbles to an end
Despite taking a thirteenth minute lead on Tuesday evening Highgate were beaten at home for the first time this season, Boldmere coming out on top of an ill tempered affair not helped for both teams by some controversial and somewhat frustrating decisions by the match officials. Level pegging by half time the visitors forged ahead with two more early second half goals, Andy Nichol reducing the arrears but Gate’s late pressure to prove ineffective as fourth placed Mikes held on for a win which keeps them within touching distance of the hosts who remain in second place but unable to take advantage of a defeat suffered by leaders Quorn at the hands of Shepshed Dynamo.
The evening had got off to a bad start for manger Lee Adams before a ball had been kicked, Chris Jay not well enough to start, Reece Lynch a late call off and Daryl Jones named in the starting line up but suffering a pre match injury which made the midfielder unavailable. Former Highgate man Perry Cox began between the sticks for Jay whilst work commitments meant Karl King replacing Dean Curtis alongside captain Craig Hall at the heart of defence with Kevin Ingram coming into midfield and Andy Nichol accompanying Lei Brown and Shane Benjamin up front. The visitors were close to making the perfect start when Cox on his return to the Coppice made two excellent saves in quick succession which denied centre forward Jermaine Clarke, with Liam Maher in the opposite goal forced into punching clear Joe Adams’ and Nathan Pulisciano’s crosses off the heads of Nichol and Brown.
The busy Maher then stretched at his far post to hold Danny Rolfe’s deeply hit cross, King then making an important challenge at the other end to prevent Ricky Baker breaking clear, Ingram also getting in a couple of crunching tackles to help him settle in on his first full appearance in a red shirt. Maher enjoyed a moment of good fortune when slow to react to a back pass, Nichol stretching in ahead of the custodian to win the ball deflected off the keeper’s leg for a corner. The thirteenth minute was to prove lucky for the home side albeit the penalty decision being clear cut when first Adams and then Benjamin were tripped, Benjamin dusting himself down to coolly convert the resulting spot kick. At this stage Gate were good value for their lead but were to be thankful for a commanding performance from Hall who was quickly across to deny Simeon Maye and then rose with a firm header out from the resulting corner. Maye set up Jermaine Clarke for a fifteen yard shot directed wide, Gate too applying pressure of their own a series of throws ending with Brown and Nichol having shots blocked.
Brown provided Benjamin with an opportunity for a drive deflected wide, Adams’ corner to the near post volleyed behind by Brown off a defender’s leg, the second flag kick resulting in Brown’s far post header cleared off the line by Alex Forde. The 32nd minute equaliser resulted from a lack of concentration and some poor Highgate defending Baker’s cross not dealt with enabling Maye to fire in through a crowd of players. A mistake in midfield saw Maye clear the bar from twenty five yards, Gate counter attacking with Brown near with a volley curled inches the wrong side of the upright following neat inter play between Nichol and Rolfe down the right hand side. Benjamin was unlucky to find himself offside when put clear by Brown, the referee calling a halt to an untidy half which on the whistle had seen Tom Lacey perfectly placed at the near post to head out Ross Clarke’s dangerous inswinging corner.
HT: Highgate United 1 v 1 Boldmere St Michaels
Things were to get worse for boss Adams when injured son Joe had to be replaced by Jordan Adams the youngster coming on for what was his first forty five minutes of senior football. The half began in promising fashion when Nichol turned on Rolfe’s free kick for a shot fired over the bar, but the Mike’s had come out in a positive mood and after Cox had easily held on to Ross Clarke’s twenty five yard free kick and Pulisciano was back to dispossess Ryan Edmunds the game was to turn within the space of a two minute spell. Boldmere’s second goal came nine minutes into the half Rolfe conceding an uncleared corner and this time it was full back Sebastian Ghofranifar who drove in a goal identical to that scored by Maye in the first half. Just a minute later an infringement in the box allowed Maye to extend his team’s lead from the resulting penalty. Stung by those reverses Gate raised their game, Lacey smacking the woodwork from twelve yards range, then cutting into the box to drive Benjamin’s pass fractionally wide.
The pressure was to tell when in 65th minute Benjamin’s strength won him the ball in midfield setting up Brown for a low cross swept in by Nichol at the far post. Such a powerful response continued with a Rolfe free kick going behind off a defender’s head, Maher then making a mess of the corner but no Gate player available to make the most of what should have been an opportunity. Lacey was enjoying a field day wide on the left of midfield releasing Ingram for a shot kept out by the unaware Maher’s elbow but the referee continued to astonish with some befuddled decision making and what looked to be a clear cut foul by Pulisciano on Edmunds in the box resulted in a yellow card for the astonished Mike’s player’s for an alleged dive.
Jordan Adams’ ball over the visitor’s defence was just too long for Benjamin to reach and although the sting had gone out of Gate’s play they still continued to create what were to prove fruitless chances to rescue a point, Brown unable to get his head on Pulisciano’s cross, Lacey’s volley headed off target for a corner and Maher blocking from Brown what was to be the last chance for the defeated home team. There was still time though for tempers to get frayed Jermaine Clarke suffering at the referee’s hands with a second yellow and subsequent red following a touchline altercation with the Gate bench. A night to forget for Highgate, Lee Adam’s in particular, but hopefully better to come as Gate strive to get their season back on track.
Highgate United: Cox; Rolfe; Pulisciano; King; Hall (c); Adams(Joe) (Adams Jordan 43); Lacey; Ingram; Benjamin; Nichol; Brown Substitutes not used: Daly; McGrath; Robinson
Boldmere St Michael:
Liam Maher; Kirk Smith; Sebastian Ghofranifar; Chris Neilson; Adam Wood (c); Alex Forde; Ryan Edmunds; Ross Clarke; Jermaine; Simeon Maye; Ricky Baker; Substitutes: Peter Gould; Rambared Barrett; Mark Rose; Lee Osbourne; Jason Holmes