FOOTBALL: BACK-to-back defeats has pushed Highgate United into the Midland League Premier Division relegation zone for the first time this season.
Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat against Long Eaton United combined with wins for Stourport Swifts and AFC Wulfrunians leaves Gate in the bottom three.
The afternoon had started on a positive note for the hosts with the naming of the club’s stand in memory of Tony Allen, a former Highgate player who tragically died after being struck by lightening 50 years ago.
Manager Ashley Pulisciano welcomed back Scott Turner in the heart of defence following his three-match suspension, while Toby Wilcox replaced the injured Brendon Bunn in goal
A heavy pitch and continuous rain did not help either set of players but it was the visitors who looked the more settled of the two sides.
They took a seventh minute lead when after James Loney had headed the ball off the line, centre half Kallum Keane fired in from close range.
Josh Hawker volleyed over from the edge of the box and Lei Brown went even closer in 20th minute when after being put through he rounded centre half Keane to beat keeper Matt Cottrell with a low shot which flew over the face of goal and beyond the far post.
Gate’s play improved with Manning firing wide form 20 yards out and Adaggio set up Pendley for a cross delivered into Cottrell’s hands.
Pendley was then red carded for lashing out at the hoardings in frustration after providing Adaggio with a chance on a plate which he lifted over the bar.
Long Eaton made the most of their one man advantage by doubling their lead in the 25th minute, Aaron Coles’ free kick coming out off the underside of the cross bar for Romaine Graham to react quickest by poking home the rebound.
Adaggio had a chance to make up for his first half miss with a drive off Hawker’s pass which deflected narrowly the wrong side of the upright.
Despite being numerically disadvantaged, Gate were coming more and more into the game with Manning firing home only to be denied by the offside flag.
The deserved breakthrough came in the 62nd minute when goalscorer Keane turned Adaggio’s low driven cross into his own net.
It was now the hosts on the front foot. Cottrell was able to hold on to Nathan Pulisciano’s cross under the bar and Hawker’s free kick landed on the roof of the net.
Hawker and Cole both made important interceptions to halt midfielder Andy Todd in his tracks but with Gate in the driving seat most of the attention was at the other end.
The visitors too were reduced by a man when Aaron Cole received an 80th minute red for a studs up challenge on Joe Cole, but other than a bullet Brown header off Pulisciano’s cross, Gate were unable to conjure up the draw their second half performance deserved.