FOOTBALL: IT PROVED to be a frustrating opening day of the season for Highgate in the Midland Premier League after they fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Loughborough University on Saturday.
Despite dominating the match for large periods, Ashley Pulisciano’s side rarely looked like beating Conor O’Keefe in the Loughborough goal and Thomas Barnes’ 21st minute proved to be the winner.
There was just one change to Gate’s starting line up with Nathan Corry replacing the injured Declan Attenborrow and the visitors were quick to adapt to an immaculate playing surface.
Josh Hawker put Lei Brown away which required O’Keefe to find touch and Tom Lacey ran 30 yards unchallenged but Brown was unable to get any potency on his shot from the resulting pass.
By the 20th minute mark neither team had imposed itself on the game and despite all their possession and neat build up play Gate lacked a cutting edge where it mattered most.
The visitors came close through a curling Corry effort but it was Loughborough who went in front on 21 minutes.
Full-back Luke Trotman crossed low following a powerful run down the right and as Gate’s defence panicked, Barnes made no mistake from close range.
There was a response from Gate with Jack Jeys grazing the top of O’Keefe’s crossbar and Brown glanced a header off a Hawker cross narrowly wide.
Brown did find the back of the net seven minutes before the break but the goal was ruled out because of an offside infringement.
Just after the break Macauley Manning rolled the ball through for Brown to test O’Keefe and Bradon Mutivbo had a shot blocked on the edge of the box.
The pressure continued as O’Keefe then got a parry on Turner’s header off Fitter’s free kick with Jeys waiting to pounce on any mistake.
As the half progressed it began to follow a similar pattern as the first with Gate playing some nice yet ineffective football while the home side always looked dangerous on the break.
Jeys’ 52nd minute volley stretched O’Keefe to the limits while at the other end Brendon Bunn was forced to take the sting out of Rankin’s 20-yard.
Jeys had a great chance to equalise after finding himself in a one-on-one situation with the keeper but inevitably O’Keefe came out on top and when in 66th minute Jeys did at last beat the custodian, the offside flag had already intervened.
Barnes proved wasteful with a couple of chances to double his side’s lead but Gate failed in their quest for the elusive equaliser and were left to rue a 90 minutes when a draw would have been deserved.
On Saturday Highgate are in FA Cup action again when they entertain Boldmere St Michaels in the Preliminary Round (3pm).