HIGHGATE manager Russell Dodd was left pondering what might have been, after his side threw away a two-goal lead in an eventual 3-2 Bank Holiday Monday defeat to Coventry United.
With a severely depleted squad to choose from, Dodd was forced into naming one of the most inexperienced line-ups seen at The Coppice in the Midland Football League Premier Division.
Regardless of the tender years of the starting 11 that took to the pitch, the Highgate boss was not afraid to make his feelings known after witnessing the capitulation of his team.
“For my side to surrender a two goal lead, when looking comfortably on top, was unacceptable against, what up until the 45th minute, had been an extremely poor opposition,” said Dodd.
“Although Coventry played with far more endeavour after the break, they were able to take full advantage of some sloppy, ill disciplined Highgate play, as for a second consecutive game we faded badly.
“Yes, we were forced into changes and fielded a young inexperienced side, but it is the manner of the defeat which upset me most – throughout the second half we failed to match the visitors in strength and commitment.”
All had seemed to be going to plan for the hosts, after establishing a two-goal lead after just 18 minutes.
The first arrived when Connor Doyle pinged a shot beyond James Wardle into the bottom-left corner from Stuart Hendrie’s lay off, who then doubled the lead five minutes later when picking out the same corner as his teammate.
A penalty just before half time swung the pendulum in United’s favour, with Aaron Williams dispatching after Matthew Gardner had been brought down.
Williams found an equaliser just moments after the break to firmly shift momentum in the visitors favour, with Gardner tucking away a simple finish to complete the comeback after a defensive error.
Highgate recovered from their troubled start to the second half and began to venture forward once more, coming within inches of parity when James Wilcock’s drive was cleared off the line.
But despite continued pressure, it was the closest the hosts came to claiming a point, meaning Highgate have now lost four matches in succession in all competitions.
Dodd will attempt to turn the ship around when hosting Ellistown from Leicestershire in the FA Vase first qualifying round on Saturday (3pm).