HIGHGATE left it late at Pilkington to claim a 2-1 win on Saturday thanks to Nathan Edgington’s injury-time winner to remain top of Midland Football League Division One.
A tenth consecutive league win was well deserved for the visitors who at one stage may have settled for just a point after the hosts pulled level five minutes from time.
After being denied what looked to be two stone-wall penalties, Gate struggled to overcome both a strong swirling wind and a stubborn resistance from a home team in the early stages of the match.
In caretaker manager Ashley Pulisciano’s absence, James Francis and Craig Hall took charge and with virtually a full strength squad available Tom Lacey filled in for fellow absentee Nathan Pulisciano at left full back behind the recalled Edgington.
Dean Curtis recovered from a recent knock for a place on the bench, whilst injury made Cameron Knight unavailable as Gate went in search of the double over a side beaten 2-1 at home in early November.
An early foul on Edgington led to Ricardo Richards heading the resulting free kick over the bar and Gate threatened again when a quick Connor Mooney throw in set up Richards for another opportunity but the resulting shot was too tame to bother Reece Francis in the home goal.
Conor McCarthy was twice quickly off his line to smother the ball at Pilkington’s Jacob Snape’s feet, and at the other end Richards broke clear only to be denied by Francis’ smart save.
Lei Brown looked to be impeded in the box on his way through on goal but appeals were turned aside by the man in the middle and Pilkington finished the half strongly with McCarthy saving well from Odane Barnes at his left hand post.
Gate broke the deadlock with just 60 seconds gone in the second half. Edgington was brought down outside the area and Brown was able to score direct from the resulting free kick. Francis got a fingertip to Richards’ attempt which until the keeper’s intervention looked destined to be goal number two but most of the action was concentrated at the other end where Snape was not far off target with a header.
McCarthy then denied Snape and Max Leveridge whilst at the other end a Brown header was clawed away by Francis on the hour mark.
Gate appeared to be harshly done for a second time in the match when Liam O’Shea released Brown who was to be crudely brought down in the box but again the decision went against the visitors.
The equaliser came with five minutes of normal time remaining. Kieran McCalla’s high looping cross was too long for the outstretched arms of McCarthy who ended up unexpectedly in the back of his own net.
Gate responded with Brown lifting an opportunity high over the bar, but deep into injury time there was still time for the winner as the home defence failed to clear Lacey’s inswinging corner and the loose ball feel nicely for Edgington to side-foot home from close range and snatch all three points for the visitors.
Highate are next in action this Saturday when they entertain Nuneaton Griff (3pm).