HSCL PREMIER DIVISION
Eagles recent good run of results came to an end at home against league leaders Belstone whose uncompromising physical approach to the game and 2 early goals were enough to overcome the less savvy Eagles side.
Eagles went behind after only 10 minutes when a high punt up field sailed over the eagles defenders and was picked up by a lone attacker who lobbed the ball over the head of keeper Dan Goad as he rushed off his line to nestle gently in the back of the net. Within another 5 minutes it was 2 -0 following some clever footwork by the Belstone left winger to beat Eagles defenders almost on the goal line; the ball was pulled back and smacked into the corner from 10 yards out.
Eagles did threaten in isolated attacks and Sam Gittings soon had a low shot beaten out by the Belstone keper. Michael Deacon headed just over the crossbar from near the penalty spot following a corner and Shane Carthy shot over the cross bar after a direct free kick was pushed to him. Eagles should have had a penalty just before half time when Carl William’s shirt was tugged to prevent him from turning inside a defender, but the loud calls for a penalty were ignored by the match referee.
In the second half Eagles played some neat football at times but created few chances, whereas Belstone always looked dangerous on the break. Goad had to make an excellent save from a close range shot and then after 70 minutes a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area by Gittings was well saved by the Belstone keeper. Gittings then turned provider with a low cross which beat the covering Bbelstone defenders but was just a yard too far in front of the lunging Carl Williams, facing an open goal a few yards out.
Sub Lee Pateman almost broke the deadlock for the Eagles when in the last 15 minutes he rode several tackles inside the penalty are only to place his low shot a foot wide of the post with only the keeper to beat.
As Eagles pushed forward Belstone had 2 great chances to put the game beyond reach of the home team but the first time the ball was placed just wide of the post with only Goad to beat, and then the Letchworth keeper pulled off a great save to deflect the ball round his post when the same thing happened a few minutes later.
Belstone held firm and in the end ran out comfortable winners in a game which the Eagles never really stepped up their game. The two teams meet again in the final of the Herts Senior Centenary Trophy on 24 March at the County Ground Letchworth.