HIGHGATE’s season went from bad to worse after being knocked out of the FA Vase competition at the second round qualifying stage following a 2-1 defeat at Paget Rangers on Saturday.
Following a midweek 7-1 drubbing at Midland Premier League leaders Westfields, Highgate suffered a shock defeat at the hands of a side sitting two divisions lower than Ashley Pulisciano’s visitors.
Sam Smith made his full debut at centre half, coming in for the holidaying Scott Turner and Tom Lacey returned to right full back while Marco Adaggio returned to the side.
The hosts made the most of a strong wind on their backs during the first half with Ross Dempsey creating their first chance by cutting across the box before firing off a shot high over the bar.
Gate’s Lacey slipped a pass through a pass for Adaggio’s first time attempt to fly narrowly wide but Paget were coming more and more into the game and Mark Williams should have done better with a header despatched weakly off target.
Goalkeeper Brendon Bunn saved well from striker Dempsey but was unable to prevent the opener after 34 minutes with Dempsey’s low cross being turned in by Billy Fagg at close range to give Paget a narrow half-time lead.
The second half started better for the visitors with Lei Brown having a shot well saved and a finishing touch was missing from a series of dangerous free kicks.
Brown came close with another shot which came inches wide and Macauley Manning set up Adaggio for a shot which was dealt with by the now overworked Benton.
But seconds later Adaggio was to find the back of the net with a shot on the turn off Hawker’s low 68th minute cross to pull the visitors level.
Brown looked to have scored but from an offside position and that man Benton was again in action with another fine save to deny Hawker.
In pushing men forward in search of a second goal, Gate were to be left exposed at the back but Smith did well to rob Carter in a threatening position.
Aaron Brown came on for the injured Connor Mooney and was not far off target from 25 yards out and Brown wasted a golden opportunity when clear on goal only to guide the ball well wide of the advancing Benton.
At the other end an equally good chance fell to and was missed by substitute David Franklin before Dan Carter hit a late injury-time winner to settle the ties.