TOWN’S recent run of poor form continued with a narrow defeat against a Long Eaton side who claimed their first victory since the back end of November.
Two out of form sides made for a low key game at times, so it was hard to say if either team did enough to merit the win, but the visitors clearly showed they were not interested in entertaining the crowd but just wanted the three points.
Town made another bright start to the game, Nathan Cartman’s defence splitting pass releasing Joe Swallow on the right and his first time cross was cut out for a corner.
When the ball was delivered into the box, three separate Town players had goalbound shots blocked in the six-yard box before Long Eaton scrambled the ball away.
Long Eaton’s first chance came on 10 minutes when James Waggett saved Kevin Mabon’s header.
The visitors had played themselves into the game after a shaky start and play was now fairly even.
Town were still creating half chances, Swallow volleying over, then Danny Hull and Danny Toronczak setting up Cartman whose shot was blocked.
Long Eaton replied with a 25-yard drive from Martin Bowles that just cleared the crossbar.
Alex O’Keefe, as ever, showed great energy down the left wing, with one excellent run and cross on the half hour mark catching the eye.
Long Eaton were still making half chances of their own, Waggett again saving a Mabon header.
Town finished the half with two good moves, one down each flank.
First, O’Keefe drove a dangerous cross into the box that was cut out at the near post, then Dan Codman showed excellent distribution with a raking 50-yard pass out of defence to Swallow down the right wing, but Toronczak could not get his effort on target from the young winger’s low cross.
Town made a disastrous start to the second half, conceding within two minutes after a long punt down field by keeper Simon Baldwin found Ben Bacon in the clear and he shot past Waggett.
Town responded well, Cartman’s turn and cross well taken by Baldwin, then Swallow set Simon Wood up to deliver a brilliant cross that Cartman and O’Keefe could not quite get on the end of.
O’Keefe then made another 50-yard run down the left wing before cutting in and shooting over.
Long Eaton’s experienced players seemed happy to sit on the lead and did not show much ambition to score a second.
Town continued to press without really creating a clear cut chance, but on numerous occasions through Swallow and particularly Hull, they got behind the Long Eaton defence and pulled the ball back from the by-line but it did not bounce right for a Town player to get a clear strike on goal.
With 20 minutes to go Town introduced Mark Trueman and Wayne Crossley for Swallow and O’Keefe, and almost immediately Trueman combined well with Hull in the box but again a Long Eaton defender threw himself into a tackle to block the ball.
With 10 minutes to go Antony Brown replaced Toronczak and nearly equalised when his header was saved from an Alex Hallam cross.
Town threw everything at Long Eaton in the final minutes with Matty Sparkes driving his team mates on, and Damian Hopkins tireless in midfield, but Long Eaton held firm and did not stand on ceremony when it came to clearing their lines with players clearly from the “old school of defending” - it was not pretty but it was effective.
Town could definitely count themselves unlucky not to share the points from this match, but the work rate was good and once a bit more confidence comes back into the side the breaks will surely come.