YATE’S dream run to the first round of the FA Cup is quickly turning into a distant memory – and their latest defeat at home to Abingdon was the stuff of nightmares.
A horrible defensive mix-up gifted Abingdon a 73rd minute equaliser against the run of play before a goalkeeping clanger by Josh Dempsey with 13 minutes left allowed them to grab an unlikely winner that leaves Yate four points adrift at the bottom.
It looked as though Mike Bryant’s 61st minute header was going to give dominant Yate a crucial victory, but they were frustrated throughout by a fine goalkeeping performance by James Foster, who saved a Tom Knighton penalty in the first half, before the late sucker punch.
While Yate’s cup exploits suggest that they are capable of climbing the table quickly, their league record of nine defeats from ten games is a stark warning that they are not too good to go down.
Manager Rob Cousins’ fantastic achievements already this season should ensure that he is given time to turn things around, and he is hoping to bolster the squad ahead of this Saturday’s home game against league leaders Hungerford Town (3pm).
The defence has been particularly depleted since their cup exit with Ollie Price taking a break from football and an injury to Edd Vahid forcing Tom Warren to fill in at centre back for the second game running, with Jake Cox at right back.
Mitchell Page must have thought he had given Yate the lead on nine minutes when he connected with a header from Matt Groves’ cross with Foster going the wrong way but the goalkeeper somehow got an outstretched hand to the ball to claw it away.
Groves went even closer six minutes later when he exchanged passes with Page and got to the ball ahead of Foster to prod it towards goal, but it came off the post.
Yate continued to create more chances and were awarded a penalty in the 38th minute when Bryant was bundled over by Carl Evans in the box. Knighton is usually reliable from 12 yards and it took a great save from Foster, diving to his right, to keep his effort out with Page heading the rebound wide.
Foster performed heroics again to get fingertips to Bryant’s powerful header from Danny Wring’s inswinging free kick and Page was wasteful when he blazed the loose ball over.
With Abingdon coming into the game more in the second half, Groves got Yate stirring again, sending in a beautiful cross from the left that Knighton headed wide.
Yate found the breakthrough when Wring’s corner was headed into the roof of the net by Bryant at the back post.
However, the visitors equalised 12 minutes later when Yate centre backs Thomas and Warren got themselves in a muddle when they went for the same ball, leaving Carl Self to race through and blast a shot past Dempsey.
Things got worse four minutes later when Dempsey raced off his line and attempted to punch a high ball, only to fumble it, and it fell into the path of Gianluca Riccio, who placed the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Yate’s night was summed up when Knighton was denied again from inside the box by a good low save by Foster, with the offside flag sparing Page’s blushes as he could only hit the post with the goal gaping, although Abingdon should have made their win more convincing when Self shot wide with just Dempsey to beat.
Yate Town: Dempsey, Warren (c), Barnes, Purnell, Thomas, Wring, Groves, Bryant, Page, Knighton, Cox. Subs not used: Meaker, Hiroli, Sarr, Cousins.
Ref: Mr D Eaton.
Att: 139 Gazette star man: Matt Groves – What a relief for Yate that he is signed on contract terms.
• Edd Vahid and James Harmer are both doubtful for Yate’s clash against Hungerford, while Josh Dempsey is unavailable.
Yate visit Cinderford Town in the Red Insure Cup next Tuesday.