Eccleshall faced Maine Road at the Apex Arena looking for a win following the recent draw at Brantingham Road when they conceded the equaliser very late in added time. Joe Minshall returned to the back line after suspension and, with Josh Beamond unavailable, Liam Kelly brought Jonny Kapend into the starting line-up.
Eagles started brightly with efforts by Nick Wellecomme and Mitch Glover going close before keeper Aaron Woolrich punched clear a free kick by Nathaniel Oseni. A good through ball by George Woodroffe found Wellecomme on the edge of the box but he screwed his shot just wide of the post. Liam Hallam then fired wide after a good run down the left. Moments later, another effort by Glover was just wide before a Wellecomme cross was claimed by Road’s keeper Ryan Livesey as Hallam came in. As the half progressed, Eagles were on top and a powerful drive by Kapend was deflected for a corner. Then, Hallam spurned a great chance when he blazed over the bar from within the six-yard box when it seemed easier to score. At the interval, the visitors could not have complained if they were at least three behind, such was Eagles’ dominance in the later stages of the first half.
HT: Eccleshall 0 Maine Road 0
The visitors must have had a half time roasting because they took the lead within three minutes of the restart when Louis Edwards netted from a corner. The lead was short lived because Eagles equalised within five minutes. A move down the left led to Wellecomme finding Glover and he curled his shot past Livesey into the far corner. Minutes later, another Glover effort hit the bar with Livesey beaten. Further headed attempts by Wellecomme were just wide of the post. Kelly brought on Luke Lewis for Woodroffe before a mis-placed pass by Glover led to Declan Hacking firing over the bar for the visitors. Eccleshall were now looking for a second and increased the pressure on the Maine Road goal and a Hallam cross led to Glover, Wellecomme and Lewis having shots blocked before the ball was cleared. Then a Kapend shot hit the post and the follow-up by Hallam was cleared off the line. The home supporters sensed that the goal would come but then a needless free kick conceded by Lewis almost on the halfway line led to the visitors taking the lead on 83 minutes when Hacking fired home past Woolrich. Kelly brought on Kyle Diskin for Blake Robinson but, on 87 minutes, Hacking netted again for the visitors to put the match beyond reach and they were able to see out time to the final whistle. It was a visibly deflated Eagles side which left the pitch at full time, whilst the visitors were elated, having been second best for much of the match. It felt like the greatest case of highway robbery since Dick Turpin to the departing supporters.
FT: Eccleshall 1 Maine Road 3
Eagles’ failure to put the game to bed over ninety minutes when dominant for large periods of the match again proved costly and any hopes of a run to the play-offs are gradually slipping away. Kelly can’t fault his team’s efforts in the match as they more than tested the visitors, but the lowest number of goals scored in the division tells its own story. He now looks to Tuesday evening when Eccleshall meet league leaders Brocton in the first round of the Edward Case Cup at Silkmore Lane. It will be another tough local derby, even more so following their 10-2 victory over struggling New Mills on Saturday.
Eagles: Woolrich, Darlington, Woodroffe (Lewis), Glover, Benton, Minshall, Robinson (Diskin), Feeney, Wellecomme, Kapend, Hallam.
Unused subs: Clare, Raine, Warren.
Referee: Jamie Roberts