Sports miss opportunity to reclaim top spot after loss

Easington Sports' Sean Snelling make a clearance against Clanfield 85. Photo: Steve Prouse
Easington Sports' Sean Snelling make a clearance against Clanfield 85. Photo: Steve Prouse

Easington Sports missed the chance to reclaim top spot in the UHLSport Hellenic League.

Ben Milner’s side lost 3-1 against in-form Clanfield 85 in Saturday’s Division One West clash at Addison Road.

Sports suffered only their second league defeat but it was the manner of it which was the most disappointing aspect. Apart from two spells at the start of each half, the visitors were comfortably the better side deserving all three points by the end of the match.

Now Sports have much work to do in order to over haul leaders Cheltenham Saracens in the coming weeks.

Sports started brightly with Mike Spaull and Joe Eyre providing crosses which Craig Robinson was just unable to make any connection with. The visitors defended the edge of their box well and settled into the game.

After a flurry of half chances Clanfield took the lead. Josef Fullerton managed to wriggle free down the left and then chipped an excellent delivery to the far post where the ball was headed back across for Callum Miller to stab home.

For large spells Sports were left chasing the game as the Clanfield midfield controlled the tempo and were more accurate with their passing which left the home side stretched.

Clanfield doubled their lead just before halftime when a lapse in concentration at the back left Fullerton with just Joe White to beat and he tucked the ball calmly under the keeper. Spaull was played through on the stroke of halftime but Jamie Zolden was quickly off his line to foil him.

After the restart, Robinson dropped back into midfield with Henry Rose going up front and the switch seemed to work as Sports won the ball higher up the pitch, putting pressure on the Clanfield defence. Zolden was again quick off his line to punch clear a neat cut-back from Spaull before saving at the feet of Rose moments later.

But the keeper gave away a penalty after he brought down substitute George Coombes in the box and Callum Convey converted the enusing spot-kick.

Sports pressed for an equaliser and Convey smashed a half volley that clipped the outside of the upright from the edge of the box. But against the run of play Clanfield restored their two-goal advantage when Adam Pendell managed to fore the ball over the line.