FOOTBALL may be a funny old game, but there was no laughter in the Tigers dressing room after this 3-2 defeat.
Strugglers Eastwood went two goals down to Worksop at Sandy Lane on Wednesday, and despite missing players through strike action and injury, pulled off a miraculous come from behind victory.
Going into the game there won’t have been many who staked a single penny on the visitors’ hopes, with news of a wage cut and player unrest filtering out of their camp.
Add to that the form of Worksop Town, with three wins on the trot and a 5-0 thrashing of Nantwich still hanging in the air.
But the form book was torn to shreds – as was the home defence – in an 12 minute spell boss Simon Clark called ‘horrific’.
At full-time Clark gave the men in yellow both barrels, and told the Guardian the defeat had cancelled out the good work done in the previous three wins.
“It was horrific,” he said.
“The three wins, the 5-0 at Nantwich, all mean nothing now. They’re all gone. Because of 12 minutes.”
“I feel sorry for our fans. The worst thing is that we let our supporters down. They follow us away from home and turn out at our ground, we go two up without playing well and then in 12 minutes we’re 3-2 down.”
“I just hope we don’t come to rue this 12 minutes.”
“Too many players doing their own thing during the game. After three reasonable performances they should buy into what we’re trying to do. But they perform like that.”
There was almost a shock start for Tigers in the second minute when Tyiesse Nightingale played a nice one-two with Danny Elliott and ran though to shoot at goal, putting the ball wide when he should have scored.
At the other end 60 seconds later Matt Young went down in the box but referee Mr Parker didn’t entertain the penalty appeals.
Leon Mettam had a glorious chance, Paul Bastock’s long kick sending him clean through and his lob attempt just cleared the bar.
But with 10 minutes played Tigers did take the lead, Chris Wood battling for the ball and forcing it into the path of Matt Young who smacked the ball into the roof of the net from 20 yards.
Five minutes later visiting keeper Sam Andrew had to improvise to palm the ball over, despite moving the wrong way, as Kern Miller headed goalwards.
A rare Eastwood attack resulted in a shot by 16-year-old Gregg Simmons and Bastock had an easy save to make.
Elliott then had a go from distance and failed to trouble the stopper.
The visitors were undone again a minute later when a nice passing move on the right allowed Craig King to swing in a cross, Tom Denton headed back across goal and Mettam was there to power home Worksop’s second.
Things went pear shaped in a bad way for the hosts in the space of two minutes, thanks to some horrible defending.
A corner from Greg Simmons was allowed to go all the way to the back post, where it fell to Romaine Graham and the big defender stabbed home.
One minute later Simmons danced past Wood with alarming ease, slid the ball into the middle and Nightingale was on hand to tuck it past Bastock.
Worksop looked to re-establish their foothold, another good, slick move ending with Ryan Clarke’s run to the byline and Steve Towers’ curling shot that fell wide.
But they almost gifted their visitors a third goal a minute before the break, Wood allowing Simmons to get into the box, Bastock saved his initial effort and the bar came to the rescue for the second shot.
And as the half entered stoppage time Towers sent a fierce drive at goal, Andrew making a fine stop low to his left.
The game’s fifth goal went to the visitors however, when Nightingale fired the ball into the feet of Simmons, he turned Wood and found the top right hand corner with a cracking strike.
An awful half for the Tigers left-back was almost compounded when he gifted the ball to Simmons, the winger sprang clear and his ball in saw Nightingale shoot, Kern Miller blocking, and the rebound was fired back in by Pennycooke-Morgan, Towers deflecting over his own bar.
Tigers regrouped at the break and came out aggressively in the second half, Mettam’s deflected free-kick giving Andrew trouble and Denton thumping a header over the bar from the resulting corner.
But there was little else for the home support to get excited about in the opening quarter of an hour, and sensing a chance was needed, Simon Clark replaced Burbeary with Lee Beeson.
Injecting some pace into the play, Worksop forged a decent chance, Young finding King, the winger exchanging touches with Mettam and shooting low, Andrew saving and holding on.
King made way for Owain Warlow on 68 minutes, despite looking like Worksop’s best outlet in attack.
Clarke’s ball inside to Beeson let the replacement drive into the box, although his shot was blocked and Miller headed the corner goalwards, Andrew held it.
The home side’s last throw of the dice came with 14 minutes left, L’Heureux Menga coming on for Denton.
A linesman’s flag was already up when Beeson delivered a perfect cross for Mettam to hook onto the bar, the little striker judged offside.
Another chance fell to the Tigers number 10, from Beeson’s free-kick, but he spooned the ball over from two yards via a deflection.
Aside from a Miller header that went miles over, Worksop didn’t come close to levelling and left the pitch with their tails between their legs as Eastwood celebrated a famous victory.
Despite his visible anger at full-time, Worksop boss Clark wants to erase the defeat on Saturday when his men travel to Liverpool.
“We need to go to Marine and put this to bed,” he added.
The game on Saturday will be Denton’s last for the club, as his loan spell from Alfreton finishes, although Tigers are hoping to sign the striker permanently.
And it is likely that Luke Shiels will miss out yet again, as his knee injury has still not cleared completely.
Worksop Town: Bastock 6, Clarke 6, Wood 4, Young 5, Ludlam 6, Miller 6, KING 6 (Warlow 68), Towers 5, Denton 5 (Menga 76), Mettam 5, Burbeary 5 (Beeson 59). Not used: Hawes, Telling.
Eastwood Town: Andrew, Raven (Selvam 85), Shaw, Elliott, Graham, Troke, Simmons, Coxon (Pennycooke-Morgan 26), Nightingale, Somes, Piliero. Not used: Whitton.
Referee: M. Parker.
Assistants: J. Bell, N. Munday.
Goalscorers: Young 10, Mettam 23; Graham 34, Nightingale 35, Simmons 45.
Yellows: Shaw 88.