A FIRST half goal by Harry Howard condemned Highgate United to a third consecutive defeat and all but end their hopes of finishing inside the top six of the Midland League Premier Division.
Just two weeks ago Highgate had won the previous encounter against Boldmere St Michaels and although they were to enjoy the better of possession for the majority of Saturday’s game, they were to pay the penalty for a lack of cutting edge up front.
The youthful visitors had worked hard for their win after soaking up considerable pressure and they defended resolutely to come away with all three points.
Highgate had managed to get some of their walking wounded back in action although Trevor Edwards, Darren Attenborrow, James Loney and Ricardo Richards were still unavailable.
There was a surprise return for Curvin Ellis following his recent loan spell at Redditch United, while Tom Lacey and James Cosgrove were both handed starts.
Lei Brown was unable to punish the home defence early on with a header from Nathan Pulisciano’s cross but they came up against an inspired Sean Butler in the Boldmere goal.
Full back Karl King went close with a shot on the turn from a quickly taken throw in and constant pressure from the home side lead to a 16th minute goal but it was controversially ruled out for an offside infringement.
With little threat posed by the visitors so far, Aaron Brown played the ball behind the back four with Adam Robinson alert enough to deny Lei Brown a chance but with Gate looking comfortably in charge they were to go behind in the 22nd minute.
Charlie Morris’ pace took him past King on the left and his perfectly flighted cross was headed in by Howard lurking at the far post to give the visitors the lead totally against the run of play.
Despite the reverse it continued to be one way traffic towards the Boldmere goal Butler did well to deal with a Brown header at the second attempt while Pulisciano averted the danger with a firm tackle on Howard at the foot of the near upright.
Murphy volleyed off target and Brown headed a Lacey corner into the keeper’s hands as Gate pushed for an equaliser.
Play followed the same pattern after the break and within the opening five minutes Gate had won a succession of corners but again they could find no way past Butler, who made an excellent save to deny Ellis.
With Gate camped in the Boldmere half Brown sent a 25-yard free kick flashing narrowly wide and Ellis was close from distance, but there was to be a lucky escape at the other end when Joe Smith slid in to turn Jack Skinner’s low driven cross marginally wide of Bradley Catlow’s right-hand post.
Brown drove substitute Corry’s square pass into Butler’s body and Lacey made space for himself in the box before dragging a shot wide as Gate continued to press.
Murphy should have done better when he shot high and wide from 20 yards out and Scott Turner stretched but was unable to get a touch on Murphy’s late cross.
Gate ending the game empty handed following what was in general a good performance but they lacked the firepower where needed up front to turn chances into goals.
On Saturday Highgate are at home to Brocton before hosting Loughborough University on Tuesday evening.