NEWHALL UNITED 2
NEWHALL United threw away a two-goal lead at Midlands Regional Alliance newcomers Pastures on Monday evening.
The Blues had led through a brace from Jack Willars (pictured) before a second-half capitulation allowed the hosts to take victory.
Things had started so promisingly for Newhall, as they attacked in numbers and overwhelmed the Pastures defence to take a third-minute lead.
Ashley Riddell slipped the ball through to Michael Cross, who in turn fed Willard only for Josh Bull to intercept.
When the ball ran loose, Cross pounced to force a stop from Pastures keeper Ricky Morgan, but the alert Willars followed in to sweep the ball home.
However, despite that bright opening it was Newhall keeper Carl Shilton who went on to have the busier evening.
He was first called into action on 12 minutes when he got down and held a firm low shot from Kevin Morrow. The Pastures marksman blasted another chance over shortly afterward, as did strike-partner Chris Niesiolowski when the ball was allowed to run all the way to him at the far post.
When another attack saw Patryk Flik break through, Richard Foster made an excellent recovery tackle.
Foster generated a chance for his side at the other end, delivering a deep free-kick for Willars to flash an effort across goal.
As half time approached, Morrow looked to have levelled for Pastures when he was set clear by Paul Topham and fired from close range, but Shilton produced a reaction stop, before punching clear the resultant corner through a crowd.
Shilton then came to the rescue by plucking Jeff Stevens' cross off Morrow's head.
Shilton continued to be in the thick of it after the interval, racing out to beat Lewis Wilson to the ball. He produced another point-blank save to deny Morrow after the striker had met a delivery at the far post.
While the hosts had created the greater chances, it was the Blues who were the more clinical and they doubled their lead on 55 minutes.
Matt Draycott's ball was helped on by Danny Wright towards Willars on the left. Willars' first touch left Bull floundering, and the Newhall striker cut inside before firing a shot inside the foot of Morgan's near post.
Shilton continued to be Morrow's nemesis, holding onto a shot from the Pastures striker after an acrobatic dive.
However, the prolific Morrow netted 33 league goals in Pastures' promotion season, and would not be held at bay forever. He pulled a goal back for the hosts on 71 minutes when he drifted in unnoticed to head home Andrew Rowlands' free-kick at the far post.
Pastures drew level two minutes later when sub Reece Bubbson made the most of huge gap in the Newhall defence to advance on goal and slot the ball under Shilton.
Shilton was well positioned once again to save from Dave Parsons at the near post, and again when Morrow got a glancing header to the ball.
Pastures were ahead for the first time on 83 minutes, when Morrow pounced on a loose clearance by Joe Tomlin and fired past Shilton.
The Blues almost found an instant response when the ball dropped to Willars 25-yards out, and his rasping first-time strike was only just clawed away by Morgan.
Morrow had the chance to put the result beyond doubt when Foster misjudged the flight of the ball, but after advancing on goal the Pastures frontman pulled his shot wide.
However, Morrow made no mistake in injury time when he finally killed off Newhall's hopes, unleashing a powerful curling effort into the top corner well beyond Shilton's reach.
GOALS: Morrow 71, 83, 90+3, Bubbson 73 (Pastures), Willars 3, 55 (Blues)
PASTURES: Morgan, Reading, Bull, Glenny, Rowlands, Topham, Stevens (Parsons 68), Flik (Bubbson 68), Niesiolowski (Baxter 58), Morrow, Wilson.
BLUES: Shilton, R Draycott, M Draycott, McInulty (N Smith 70), Foster, Tomlin, Cross, Wright, Riddell, Willars, Pasternak (Coleman 62). Sub not used: J Smith
BLUES STAR MAN: Carl Shilton – kept the hosts at bay as long as he possibly could.
REFEREE: A Green (Ilkeston)