United followed up their narrow win over Liversedge three days earlier with a resounding victory over newly-promoted Glasshoughton Welfare at Grange Park on Tuesday evening, confidently gaining three more points in what is becoming an enlightening NCEL campaign.
Seven days ago, Glasshoughton had achieved an eye-catching victory over much-fancied Parkgate and they had also secured creditable draws against both Staveley and Retford. However, whilst United were recording their success at Liversedge, Glasshoughton were on the receiving end of a heavy defeat against the league leaders and whether or not their capitulation against United was due to a confidence-draining setback against Worksop Parramore last Saturday, this was still an outstanding United performance.
In the absence of Jimmy Hunter
, Danny Chambers
was restored to the starting line-up, fulfilling a right-back role in Manager Mick Galloway’s re-shaped side. Ben Wallace, Jack Davies and Elliot King
were the named substitutes on a wet, windswept and gloomy Grange Park evening.
The pace of the game in the early stages was indicative of the pattern that followed, though few would have anticipated the final outcome as both sides fought to impress themselves on the contest.
tried to make early inroads down the left-hand side after being freed by Blaine Hancock
and as the visitors tried to counter, they came up against Jacob Webster
and Kelvin Mushambi, who both used their intuitive style to restrict their progress.
Hancock himself was emerging with some dominance and he fired a shot wide from distance and a quick break from Glasshouton resulted in an effort being rifled over the bar from a dangerous position.
Ultimately, the overall balance of the game changed after sixteen minutes when a level of sustained pressure resulted in a corner, enabling United to edge ahead with a measure of fortune.
’s kick dropped into the area and Glasshoughton’s Andy Fieldhouse solidly deflected the ball past his own ‘keeper, without a blue shirt near him.
With United now in the ascendancy, they increased their lead five minutes later after Kial Thurman released Shaun Rickford
and the club’s leading scorer hit a low strike from twenty yards that eluded the lunge of the visiting ‘keeper and crept just inside his left hand post.
United continued to impress and Gordon fired another effort across the face of the visitors goal as Glasshoughton struggled to cope.
Almost imperceptivity, the visitors began to assert themselves and during the final ten minutes of the half they provided their best football of the game.
A free-kick produced a header that drifted wide of Scott Miles upright and moments later another headed effort scraped the bar, with United’s defence looking a little ragged for the first time in the game.
The warning signs failed to encourage the necessary action and as gaps began to appear, Andy Fieldhouse rapped an excellent goal for the visitors following some hesitancy on United’s left.
The goal understandably lifted the Yorkshire side and during a frantic five minutes before the interval Miles was forced to make a desperate save, Mark Littlewood
cleared during a scramble whilst Miles lay grounded and a chipped effort just edged wide of the United ‘keeper’s post.
When the interval arrived, United were perhaps a little grateful of the respite, despite all their earlier control.
Immediately after the restart the visitors almost levelled the scores when they broke quickly, resulting in a shot being rifled wide. However, United soon began to re-assert their earlier superiority.
After fifty-three minutes they were able to restore their two-goal advantage after a great cross from the left by Savage was bravely headed home by Thurman, despite the close attention of a Glasshoughton defender.
On the hour, United effectively ended the contest when excellent work from Savage and Mushambi freed up Rickford on the edge of the visitors area. The United captain seized the opportunity presented to him and thumped a scorching effort that flew into the net off the underside of the bar, claiming his eleventh goal of the season in the process.
From this point on, United completely dominated the remainder of the game and although the visitors tried to stem the tide they were unable to get the ball out of their own half for long periods.
A free-kick from Gordon on sixty-seven minutes received the faintest of touches from Davies as the substitute claimed his first goal for the club and minutes later another United substitute knocked in goal number six when King struck the ball home after a strong challenge by Littlewood set up the chance.
Understandably, the Glasshoughton side wanted the game to be over and there were one or two niggling challenges in the final minutes.
Prior to the final whistle Savage, Hancock and Ben Wallace all had further well-struck efforts that could have added to the visitors misery but when the game finally concluded, United had recorded their biggest margin of victory in a Grange Park league match for over three years, setting up an intriguing meeting with leaders Worksop Parramore in four days time.
Long Eaton United Team: Scott Miles, Danny Chambers
, Mark Littlewood
, Michael Armstrong
, Kial Thurman, Kelvin Mushambi, Blaine Hancock
, Jacob Webster
, Danny Gordon
, Shaun Rickford
, Matt Savage
Subs: Jack Davies (Chambers 57), Elliot King
(Mushambi 65), Ben Wallace (Webster 73), (Davies)
As each game presents new challenges it is becoming clear that United’s small group of players are responding admirably to the demands of their Manager.
The Glasshoughton side did possess a number of capable players and after they pulled a goal back there was a period in which they looked as if they could create enough of a threat to take something from the game, a view that was shared by a number of concerned followers at the interval.
Thankfully, United re-asserted their authority soon after the break and provided some exciting football that eased any concerns about there being any other outcome than victory for the Blues.
As you would expect in such an overwhelming success, there were some outstanding individual performances and if the players themselves go in search of that particular accolade in the ‘stat’ section of the website they will be disappointed. It is too difficult a selection to make.
Kelvin Mushambi again provided another satisfying display in midfield and the ninety-minute performance of Blaine Hancock
served to provide further evidence of his usefulness to the team.
set up two goals for his team-mates and ran his heart out for the cause, possibly deserving reward of a goal himself, and the ‘usual suspects’ of Michael Armstrong
, Kial Thurman and Mark Littlewood
each made their mark with performances of quality, as did the hard-working Jacob Webster
United’s other four starters all made worthwhile contributions, and none more so than Shaun Rickford
, who continues to wear his captain’s armband with undoubted pride.
Each of United’s substitutes played their part too, with two of them getting their names on the score-sheet, one of which was predicted with some confidence.