Late drama as Bishop's Cleeve lose to North Leigh to make it seven defeats in a row
BISHOP'S CLEEVE 1
NORTH LEIGH 2
WHEN a 93rd minute penalty slams into the net to complete a turnaround that has seen a desperately needed three points become none, you just know your luck is not in.
When it completes a tale of woe that has seen seven successive defeats drop you to the bottom of the league, then there might be a time to panic.
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But if Bishop's Cleeve are to escape with their Southern League lives intact this season, then they would be better off forgetting the final ten minutes of Wednesday night's game altogether.
For 81 minutes the Villagers were comfortable, in control almost, before some late demons and some chaotic decision-making cost them oh so dearly.
When Matt Rose capped a first-half full of promise with an unerring headed goal, the Villagers would have felt confident of claiming those three desperately needed three points.
Not only did the assistant manager give his side a deserved lead, it was a goal that got one particular monkey off the back after three previously goalless games.
Finishing touches were all that denied Cleeve before Rose's 39th minute connection with Mike Tambling's corner as Iain Sercombe and Jake Lee both missed presentable early chances.
Sercombe, a striker whose availability is restricted to midweeks owing to his job, blazed over after 12 minutes after latching on to a Lee pass.
And former Cheltenham Town professional Lee should surely have done better when hooking a barely-cleared corner onto the crossbar four minutes later.
Jimmy Nortei showed admirable composure to scamper from his line and deny any of the slight threats that the visitors posed – although that would change, and with great cost, late in the night.
In control despite being forced to play into a strong wind in the second half, Cleeve were unable to fashion much in the way of clear-cut chances to take a decisive two-goal lead.
Player-manager Alex Sykes cut in off the left wing and shot, but Sam Warrell in the North Leigh goal easily gathered the scuffed effort.
And as attacks became ever-more rare with the hosts desperately seeking to stop their rot, there was a sense of dreadful inevitability about the North Leigh equaliser.
Jacob Walcott – cousin of Arsenal and England's Theo – found space on the right and his cross was turned into the net fellow substitute Declan Shepherd with virtually his first touch of the ball.
And bad turned to worse in injury time as the visitors struck for a decisive second.
They had already had claims for a goal turned down after a goalline clearance and a superb Nortei save when the Ghanain goalkeeper blotted his copybook with a moment of madness.
Rushing off his line, he was beaten to the ball by Shepherd who was crunched to the ground and a penalty was correctly given.
Visiting skipper Stuart Hole accepted his chance from 12 yards with glee, slamming home to earn his side their first win in four and consign Cleeve to their seventh straight loss.
They will look to avenge that result when a Clevedon Town side – containing former Cheltenham Town midfielder Alex Russell – visit Kayte Lane on Saturday (3pm).
Bishop's Cleeve: J Nortei; B Maguire, A Hoyle, M Rose, A Mace; M Tambling (J Parker, 85), L Davis, M Jackson, A Sykes (M Davis 60); I Sercombe, J Lee. Subs not used: J Locke, S Jones.
North Leigh: S Warrell; W Turk (D Shepherd 80), S Hole, T Franklin, Z Westlake; B Bowles, M Alexis, T Clarke, J Else; R Brooks (J Walcott 73), K Sanders. Sub not used: D Sadler
Referee: J Benjamin (Oxford)
Star man: Alex Hoyle.