HIGHGATE United’s lack of cutting edge was at fault for last weekend’s 3-0 reverse away to Boldmere St Michaels, according to manager Russell Dodd.
The defeat at The Trevor Brown Memorial Ground brought Gate’s nine-match unbeaten run to an abrupt end in Saturday’s Midland Football League Premier Division meeting, following second-half goals from Kyle Byrne, Jack Skinner and Daniel O’Sullivan.
Dodd accepted that the good streak of form was always likely to end, but felt aggrieved by the manner in which this eventuality came to light.
“I suppose the good run had to come to an end sometime, but not in such a disappointing fashion,” he said.
“Unfortunately it was an off day for us as we failed to fulfill our potential. The misses were woeful, which we were later punished for by a side made to look far better than they really were.”
An uninspiring first half meant neither goalkeeper were troubled, largely in part to a lack of clinical finishing.
Isaac Jagroop was a player guilty of not wearing his shooting boots, missing two golden opportunities late in the half as the two teams went in goalless at the break.
With top-scorer Stuart Hendrie also failing to put away his chances, it became clear that it was not going to be Gate’s day.
And so it proved when Byrne buried the ball past James Beeson after Joe Lyng’s header played the Boldmere forward in on goal.
Five minutes later, the game was put out of Highgate’s reach when Beeson brought O’Sullivan down inside the penalty area, allowing Skinner to sweep home from the spot.
O’Sullivan had a goal of his own to savour in the third minute of stoppage time, capping a win that moved Boldmere above tenth-placed Highgate into eighth.
A trip to South Normanton Athletic, currently 11th, awaits on Saturday (3pm).
CHELMSLEY Town’s losing run now stands at six games in Division One after a slender 1-0 loss away to Heath Hayes.
Jason Holmes’ goal on the stroke of half-time handed the Staffordshire side all three points at the weekend, keeping Chelmsley submerged in the relegation battle.
Town are currently 17th after their 17th loss of the league campaign, a position they will be unable to rectify until mid-February – given their next fixture at home to Kirby Muxloe is on Saturday, February 15.
IN DIVISION Two, leaders Solihull United suffered just their third defeat of the season in the derby with Earlswood Town.
Gary Walker and Matt Green netted the crucial goals to help the hosts cause the shock of the week at The Pavilions.
Despite Earlswood’s lowly position of 13th, a result of a season in which they have only completed eight games in the league, Tom Reynolds’ men have now racked up their fourth win in succession.
The table-toppers for all of the possession they enjoyed were unable to trouble the well-drilled hosts, until top-scorer Costas Lautaru forced a save out of Earls’ goalkeeper Dan Farr after racing in behind the defence.
With five minutes remaining before the break, a corner swung into the box by Walker put United stopper Ben Maxwell under pressure and resulted in the ball being fumbled into his own net.
Earlswood then sealed victory 20 minutes from time when Matt Pemberton’s determination to keep a ball in play led to the resulting cross being turned home by Green inside the box.
The win puts the Earls in good stead ahead of a frantic February, when the club will play nine times in the league in an attempt to catch up on their rivals.
A trip to Bolehall Swifts on Saturday (2pm) is followed by the reverse tie at Solihull United on Monday (7.30pm) and a home game against Alcester on Wednesday (7.45pm).
United meanwhile will host Hampton in another Solihull derby on Saturday (3pm).
SECOND-PLACED Knowle have taken full advantage of the leaders’ shortcomings after claiming a crucial 3-2 win at Feckenham.
Steven Ruck, Zak Hall and Louis Bridges all struck in the second half at Studley Sports and Social Club, helping their side overturn a 1-0 deficit at the break to take a vital three points in their hunt for promotion.
The latest win was Knowle’s fifth in succession in all competitions, keeping the club’s momentum going ahead of a tough trip to sixth-placed FC Stratford on Saturday (2pm).
With four points keeping Knowle off the top and with a game in hand, the club are certainly not short on incentives going into the clash.
GOALS were at a premium in the 0-0 stalemate between Boldmere Sports & Social Falcons and Hampton on Saturday.
The goalless draw will not be one that lives very long in the memory in a match of very few chances.
A point does however move Hampton up a place into 11th going into Saturday’s aforementioned clash with Solihull United.
TOM Howes was at the double as FC Shush silenced their hosts Leamington Hibernian in a 3-1 win in Division Three.
It took Shush, who stay fifth, all of five minutes to open the scoring when Jay Payne’s corner caused confusion, forcing a Hibs player into scoring an own goal.
And 14 minutes later that lead was doubled when a set piece to the back post was headed home by Howes.
The game was put out of reach just before the half-hour mark when Howes got on the end of a corner from Payne, again at the far post, to score.
While Leamington did pull a goal back nine minutes after the restart, it did little to inspire a comeback as the visitors returned with their eighth win of the season.
A home game in the last 16 of the Les James Challenge Cup against Sutton United is next up on Saturday (1.45pm).
IDRIS Oyeniyi’s 93rd-minute winner made him Birmingham Tigers’ derby-day hero at AFC Solihull.
With the game petering out into a 0-0 stalemate, the Guinean forward was alive to finish from a corner and condemn AFC to their eighth defeat this term.
Birmingham are up to fifth, while Solihull stay tenth.
Losing manager Jon Hill was keen to reiterate the positives from the encounter, commenting: “It was great to see the young players be given a chance to prove themselves and I was delighted with their efforts – I’m sure they will have taken a lot from the experience.
“It’s really hard to lose a game that late as I thought we were by far the better side today.
“We lacked a cutting edge in the final third and that really cost us – on another day we could have been three or four goals up.”
The Tigers are in Les James Challenge Cup action against Coventry Plumbing in the last 16 on Saturday (1.45pm), while AFC visit Inkberrow in the league (2pm).