Sports handed a harsh lesson in opening day defeat

Easington Sports' Piers Walton sees his shot charged down by Longlevens' James Barnett. Photo: Steve Prouse
Easington Sports' Piers Walton sees his shot charged down by Longlevens' James Barnett. Photo: Steve Prouse

Easington Sports had a harsh baptism to life in the premier division of the uhlSport Hellenic League.

Matt Giles’ side will need to learn quickly from Saturday’s opening 3-0 defeat against Longlevens. Despite competing for long spells, Sports’ were left to rue missed chances while the visitors capitalised on errors and a ‘soft’ penalty to gain all three points.

Sports got off to the worst possible start, hesitant in possession, they were made to pay when the visitors took the lead from a short corner. Sports failed to clear and the quick-thinking visitors combined well before the ball was cut back for Issac Johns to tap-in from close range.

Sports had Lee Farrow to thank for a fine finger-tip save before the hosts settled into the game and finished the half strongly. Joe Eyre raced through but shot over and the flying winger headed over the bar after a great cut back by Owen James.

On the opposite flank, Piers Walton showed exceptional pace and composure but saw his effort tipped on to the outside of the near post by the keeper. Walton beat his man again, dummied the defender and keeper before cutting the ball back for James but his shot was blocked at the near post.

The second half was a more even affair which saw Sports pushing for an equaliser while Longlevens remained a threat from set-pieces and on the counter. But the crucial moment proved to be another timely reminder of the step up in the quality of players in the higher division.

In a matter of seconds, Tom Smith bravely headed away from the visitors’ forward Bradley Martin who made contact with the full-back’s head with a high boot in an attempt to flick the ball away. Smith stood his ground, the referee played on and Martin managed to get his body in between Smith and the ball, earning a penalty which Shaun O’Connor converted.

Giles on George Coombes, Luke Swan and Lewis Locker with all three players contributing to some good possession and attacking play without being able to create a clear-cut chance. In the latter stages Martin scored on the break, punishing another moment of indecision at the back for Sports.