While the First Division saw the first Northern League Classico of the season (more on that later), Division Two newcomers Easington made the long trip west to Whitehaven. Footyramblings’ James Williams went with them.
Easington Colliery made their longest trip of the season to west Cumbria to face a Whitehaven side struggling at the bottom end of Northern League Division 2. Easington lined up with a starting 11 that was going to have to finish the game regardless of the result as they only named one substitute, reserve keeper Darren George. The Easington secretary disclosed that two players hadn’t turned up for the bus, which is why the match day squad was so bare.
The game kicked off with Easington having the majority of the ball. The first chance came when Craig Ellison beat the offside trap but with the keeper rushing out his attempted chip was off target. With 27 minutes on the clock the ball fell to John Harrison following a goalmouth scramble in the Whitehaven area but he hit the post from 12 yards when it seemed easier to score. Harrison was furious with himself and was lucky to avoid a caution when taking his frustration out with a late tackle seconds after the miss.
With 35 minutes gone a long ball from the Easington back line was flicked on by Harrison who then chased the ball down himself. Whitehaven keeper Stuart Pettit came out of the area and cleared the ball, but it landed at the feet of Craig Ellison, who shot toward goal from 40 yards. The ball cleared the keepers head and rolled in to the open goal as he chased it in vain. Easington made it to half time with their lead intact and were unlucky not to extend it with two further chances before the whistle.
Whitehaven came out for the second half and had more chances in the first three minutes than in the whole of the previous half. Straight from kick off Leigh Dunn was played through and his pace took him past the Easington back line, but keeper Chris Rookes was equal to his shot from 20 yards. The home side didn’t have to wait long for their next chance, and this time Kevin Connelly turned on the edge of the box to create some space before curling an excellent effort in to the top right corner past the onrushing keeper.
Straight from the kick off Easington almost regained the lead after a fantastic move. A long ball was played toward Harrison who flicked a header out to Dale Crawford on the wing. Crawford whipped in a deep cross to Luke Wilson at the back post but Wilson was only able to stab the ball wide. It would prove to be a costly miss. On the hour mark the home side took the lead for the first time with Leigh Dunn rounding the keeper before slotting the ball past two defenders on the line. Whitehaven were able to bring on substitutes to freshen things up, and Easington began to tire as the home side continued to improve. Whitehaven had am effort disallowed for offside, and the game soon developed in to a pattern where by Easington played the long ball and loaded the box and Whitehaven played on the break. Kevin Connelly should have made it 3-1 when he was clean through one on one against the keeper, but he put his low shot the wrong side of the post.
Despite a couple of late corners for Easington the home side held on for only their second win of the season.