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F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Lita (88)

Long Eaton United

Rogers (7), (45), Jebbison (11)

(0) 1

(3) 3



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Leroy Lita



Avechurch (A) 13.9.22

The Pitmen are once again dumped out of the F.A. Cup at the first hurdle this afternoon as step four Long Eaton United coast to victory at the RACE Stadium to move into Monday's second qualifying round draw

A morale-boosting performance from the managerless Pitmen at Nuneaton Borough on Bank Holiday Monday had lifted spirits around Keys Park and had given the club belief that they could shake off their atrocious recent record in the F.A. Cup, having been knocked out of the competition by lower league sides in the past two seasons. Interim managers Leroy Lita and Martin Riley made two changes to the side that had started at Liberty Way in defence as Lewis Hayden came in for Nathan Cameron, who was unavailable, whilst Notts County's on-loan goalkeeper Tiernan Brooks came straight into the side for his debut as he replaced the now-departed Lewis Gwilliams after arriving overnight from the Vanarama National League side. Chay Tilt had returned to the club after initially being released three weeks ago and was named amongst the substitutes. A new name in the form of teenager Mitchell Barnes also appeared amongst the replacements, with the youth team player promoted to the first team to enable the Pitmen to name five substitutes for today's game

Long Eaton - promoted to step four last season after winning the United Counties League Premier Division - arrived at the RACE Stadium off the back of a derby day defeat at Carlton Town on Monday afternoon, with manager Ian Deakin making five changes to his side for today's cup tie as Romaine Graham, Micah Jebbison, Reco Fyfe, Kam Campbell and Jack Rogers all coming in ahead of Tom Marshall, Alex Marshall, Rod Orlando-Young, former Hednesford man Jermain Hollis and Jamie Walker

Despite it being F.A. Cup day, the Pitmen's recent home form had appeared to have affected many supporters' decision as to whether to attend as only 400 people were in attendance for today's game. The people that had turned up saw the Pitmen kick off and push forwards early on, with Cameron Ebbutt and Josh Webb linking up well early on down the left but wasting the opportunity to send over a cross to the middle, where Lita was lurking

Larell King made a timely clearance to deny the Pitmen a sniff at goal in the sixth minute as Webb's pull-back from the left-hand byeline was aimed towards Lita once more, only for the right-back to make a timely block to divert the ball away from goal

The visitors swept into the lead, however, with their first meaningful attack of the game as the Pitmen once again pressed the self-destruct button with more woeful defending to hand the visitors an early lead in the sixth minute. The Pitmen failed to effectively clear their lines as left-back Kieran Walker swung in a cross that was diverted away by the heel of Portman but into the feet of Rogers, who confidently fired past Brooks with a rising shot beyond the reach of the young stopper at his near post from twelve yards out

Things went from bad to worse for the home side in the eleventh minute as Long Eaton doubled their lead to take a firm hold of the tie; the visitors worked the ball patiently across the pitch and down the left once more, with Fyfe making a superb run in behind Hayden and into acres of space, picking out Jebbison with his cross that the rangy midfielder sidefooted past Brooks from six yards out as he easily got goal side of Webb to turn the ball home from close-range

The Pitmen looked to muster up a response from a Kyle Bennett free-kick four minutes later after Lita had been brought down by Jamie McGuire thirty yards from goal. The out-of-form midfielder lifted his effort high and wide of goalkeeper Sam Wilson's goal, however, with a wild and wasteful effort

It could have been three for the visitors on eighteen minutes as a direct ball forwards from Sam Wilson opened up the Pitmen once more with consummate ease; the goalkeeper's long free-kick bounced over the head of the hapless Portman and into the path of Campbell, who beat both Lewis Ison and Brooks to the ball but hooked his left-footed effort just wide of goal from sixteen yards out

Interim manager Lita had the Pitmen's best chance of a dreadful opening quarter on twenty minutes as Webb worked the ball to Cameron Ebbutt, whose whipped-in cross from the left was headed just wide by the veteran at the near post

Ebbutt had struggled to get himself into the game thus far, with the left winger doing well to recycle a Riley O'Sullivan corner on twenty-four minutes and cross into the near post, where King was once more on the spot to clear the danger ahead of Lita

The visitors were forced into making their first change of the afternoon on the half-hour mark as King limped off the pitch with a knock picked up in the build-up to the earlier O'Sullivan corner and was replaced by Brad Wilson

Ebbutt was guilty of wasting a good opening for the hosts two minutes later as he leant back and lifted his shot from twenty yards out high over the crossbar when a pass out to O'Sullivan on the right may have been a better option

Sixty seconds later, Bennett tested the reflexes of Sam Wilson with a rare long-range effort, picking the ball up from Todd Parker in acres of space just outside the Long Eaton penalty area before drilling in a shot at a comfortable height for the former Mansfield Town stopper to make the save down to his left

Good play from the Pitmen down the right flank on thirty-seven minutes saw Ebbutt and O'Sullivan combine with some neat one-touch football, allowing Ebbutt time and space to cross from the touchline and find the head of Lita, whose downwards header bounced up towards goal but straight into the arms of the grateful Wilson

Lita felt that he should have been awarded a penalty kick a minute later as he seized upon a mis-kick from Graham to take the ball into the Long Eaton penalty area before being bundled to the ground by the away team's skipper. Despite the veteran's pleas, referee Mr Buckle gestured to Lita to get back to his feet instead and the game continued

The Pitmen were ending the half strongly and forced Sam Wilson into another save on forty-three minutes; Webb's cross sat up nicely for Lita, whose half-volley was blocked by Graham before running into the path of Hayden, whose rebounded shot from twelve yards out was saved by the stopper from close-range

Despite this, the Pitmen found themselves three goals down just before half-time as more woeful defending from the hosts allowed their lower league opponents in once more. Another long, direct ball was to be their undoing as Sam Wilson's goal kick was missed by Portman, allowing Jebbison to beat Webb in the air and flick on to the ever-willing Rogers. Ison was guilty of a shocking misjudgement, allowing the ball to bounce behind him and into the path of the striker, who coolly finished past Brooks with a driven shot across goal and into the far corner of the net from eight yards out

In first half added time, Campbell was the first player to receive a booking from Mr Buckle as he was cautioned for a mistimed sliding tackle on Portman that flattened the teenager just outside his own penalty area

The Pitmen were roundly booed off the pitch by a frustrated and angry Keys Park crowd at the break after a truly woeful first-half performance that had seen them regularly taken apart by their lower-league opponents, who were well in control of proceedings at the break. The experienced Webb was removed from action before the start of the second half ad Barnes made his debut in his place. This saw Hayden move across to left-back, becoming the fifth player already this term to play there in just seven games

After such a poor showing in the first half  and with a huge deficit to make up, the Pitmen started the second half strongly and went close to reducing it on forty-eight minutes as Parker's deep free-kick was headed goalwards by Ison, only for Sam Wilson to make a comfortable save

Lita did have the ball in the net a minute later as the Pitmen put together a neat passage of passing play, with Hayden's through ball turned home by the striker from ten yards out, only to be denied by an offside flag against him in the build-up

Nine minutes after the restart and with things no better for the hosts, they made their second change of the afternoon as Tilt made his return to the side in place of Ebbutt, who looked surprised to see his number go up on the board and made his feelings known when he returned to the bench about the decision

Sixty seconds later, Long Eaton were reduced to ten men as Tyreece Robinson was shown a straight red card by Mr Buckle for a wild two-footed challenge on O'Sullivan just inside the Hednesford half, clipping the Hednesford man as he followed through and receiving his marching orders for the intent of the tackle

O'Sullivan was picking up the brunt of the Long Eaton challenges, with two fouls on him in sixty seconds just before the hour mark earning the Pitmen two free-kicks in promising positions. However, both Bennett set-pieces were wasted as neither ball in found a man in white with Long Eaton clearing their lines with ease on both occasions. Very, very poor from the hosts

Jebbison's game was ended on sixty-one minutes as the visitors brought on the more defensively-minded James Taylor in place of the Long Eaton goalscorer

A mazy run from Parker on sixty-four minutes saw the former Wolves midfielder dribble his way past three Long Eaton challenges on the edge of the penalty area before finally making half a yard of space for himself to shoot, with his rising shot straight into the hands of Sam Wilson

The pressure was growing on the ten men of Long Eaton, as the Pitmen became more and more desperate in their attempts to get back into the game. A well-worked move from right to left on sixty-seven minutes worked the ball into the feet of Hayden, whose low driven shot was blocked by Brad Wilson for a Hednesford corner

A drifting cross from Barnes out on the right a minute later looked to momentarily catch Sam Wilson out before the stopper managed to make up the ground and claim the ball at his far post ahead of Tilt


The visitors were showing no intent to want to press forwards as they were content to sit and allow the Pitmen to have the ball in front of them whilst they kept it tight. A quick counter-attack from Taylor on seventy-two minutes saw the substitute break down the left, but with no one in a red and black shirt up with him he had to go it alone and was finally tackled by Ison before he could shoot

Despite Lita's best attempts to drag his team back into the game, it just wasn't happening for the veteran, who went within inches of reducing arrears on seventy-five minutes; a neat, flowing move through midfield saw Parker play a delightful pass into the path of Lita, who beat O'Sullivan to the ball but saw his angled shot tipped around the post by Sam Wilson for a corner kick

Brooks had looked completely out of his depth throughout the second half and was spared any further trouble with nine minutes remaining as Numair Rashadf came on his place to add more of an attack-minded player to the pitch for the desperate hosts

A minute later, Hollis - who had a short spell with the Pitmen back at the start of the 2018-2019 season - came on to add his experience and presence to the Long Eaton midfield as he replaced Campbell

The Pitmen were struggling to pick holes in the Long Eaton back line, with Parker's long-range effort on eighty-five minutes perhaps summing up the current mood in the camp as he fired high and wide from twenty-five yards out with no movement in from of him to play a pass

Two minutes later, Tilt's first real chance to stretch his legs saw the winger pick up a pass from Portman out on the right, making a darting run past Brad Wilson and crossing to the far post, where the incoming Rashad was denied a free header by Taylor, who turned the ball behind for a Hednesford corner

Parker's resultant kick was curled into the Long Eaton six-yard box, where Lita got a run on Ison to beat his skipper to the ball and head it into the far corner of the net from six yards out; it was Lita's third goal of the season, with the striker now notching all but one of the Pitmen's goals so far this term

Alas, there was to be no comeback from the Pitmen in the four minutes of added time as Long Eaton once again defended stoutly to see off any late pressure from their hosts to record a well-deserved victory over their step three opponents. Long Eaton's win extends the recent depressing run of F.A. Cup exits for the Pitmen to three in a row against lower league opposition. Expect much in the way of activity around the club this week as the search for a new manager hots up, with the Pitmen hopeful that a new man will be at the helm for next weekend's big A5 derby against Tamworth at the RACE Stadium. Whoever he is, he will have an awful lot to do based on today's dreadful showing and we may see several comings and goings in the next few weeks as the Pitmen once again go through one of their oh-so-familiar periods of uncertainty

Hednesford Town: Brooks, Hayden, Webb (Barnes 45 (Rashad 81)), Portman, Ison ©, Rowe, Ebbutt (Tilt 54), Parker, Lita, Bennett, O'Sullivan      Subs Unused: Wilding, Williams

Long Eaton United: S. Wilson, King (B. Wilson 30), K. Walker, McGuire, Graham ©, Robinson  (55), Jebbison (Taylor 61), Gordon, Campbell ▆ (Hollis 81), Fyfe, Rogers       Subs Unused: Leivers, T. Marshall, A. Marshall


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