Sports miss promotion party in final day heartbreak

Player-manager Ben Milner gave Easington Sports the lead against Letcombe
Player-manager Ben Milner gave Easington Sports the lead against Letcombe

It proved to be one game too far for Easington Sports as they failed to get the three points they needed to seal promotion for the first time in the UHLSport Hellenic League.

Letcombe spoiled the final day party at Addison Road, running out 5-3 winners in Saturday’s Division One West clash. Sports had to win to pip Shrivenham for the runners-up spot on goal difference but it was not to be as they failed to make it seven wins on the spin.

Player-manager Ben Milner gave Sports the perfect start but that was about as good as it got as Letcombe established a 3-1 interval lead. A missed penalty from Callum Convey after the restart was followed by two more Letcombe goals before Sports rallied but they ran out of time in the end.

Milner headed home Convey’s corner at the far post to give Sports the early breakthrough but Letcombe equalised when the impressive Bradley Pagliorili turned James Hastie, raced clear before cutting inside to rifle the ball past Adam Rimmer from the edge of the box.

Ben Hummell’s header hit the post from Pagliorili’s inswinging corner before Letcombe took the lead. Pagliorili’s cross caught out Rimmer who could only palm the ball on for Iggy Illott to volley home from close range.

And it got worse for Sports on the stroke of halftime when Rimmer impeded Pagliorili in the box and Adam Bruce converted the ensuing spot-kick via the upright.

Sports had the ideal opportunity to get back into the game immediately after the restart but Convey’s penalty was saved by Charlie McCready. Substitute Mike Spaull twice went close before Letcombe increased their lead when Bruce glanced home a corner at the near post.

Sports rallied but were rocked by a fifth Letcombe goal when Luke Mulvey’s speculative effort took a wicked deflection and wrong-footed Rimmer. Sports threw everything at Letcombe and Charlie Hill pulled a goal back from close range.

Sports won another penalty in the closing stages and this time Reece Bayliss sent McCready the wrong way from the spot to give his side renewed hope. They still needed three goals and it proved beyond them especially when Hill picked up his second caution.