12:37pm Monday 3rd February 2014
By Andrew Simpson
WHEN substitute Leon Mettam scored a stoppage time leveller for Worksop Town, it felt inevitable.
In part because he is the Premier Division’s best striker – this is his 32nd goal in the league this season.
But also, annoyingly for Albion players left holding despairingly their head in hands, Witton have a habit of letting in late goals.
And it’s chronic.
To rub salt in the wound, Brian Pritchard’s men would have climbed from the relegation zone for the first time since Christmas had they held on to a lead established by second half scores by Michael Powell and Josh Hancock.
With that in mind, it is hard to reckon the result is anything other than a missed opportunity, particularly after a performance packed with positive elements.
This is the sixth time this term Witton have conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes of a game that has led to them losing points.
With those added to their tally, they would be 17th in the table.
At the very least, Albion deserved a draw.
To have avoided defeat both head-to-heads with the division’s most potent forwards will provide succour, even if only in hindsight, too.
On a heavy pitch, and in wind that swirled rather than blow in one team’s favour, chances before the break were few and far between.
The hosts had a glimpse of goal when Ben Harrison headed Jon Breeze’s free kick in Rob Bodie’s direction, but Worksop’s Adam Quinn stretched every sinew to avert the danger.
Tigers toiled to find their usual attacking fluency, though they still found a way to score first.
Mark Gray’s clearance, hit low and hard, became an assist for Jack Muldoon on 28 minutes.
After reacting quicker than Anthony Gardner, he held off the full back’s attempt to recover before steering smartly past goalkeeper Matt Cooper.
Witton were more purposeful immediately after the interval.
Powell thumped in an equaliser on 52 minutes, reaching first Danny Andrews’ corner at the near post.
Scott Bakkor sneaked behind Worksop’s backline shortly afterwards, forcing custodian Jonathan Stewart to block with a boot.
At the other end Mettam, making his first appearance of the calendar year after recovering from an ankle injury, almost scored with his first touch.
Fellow replacement Connor Higginson led a counter that served Muldoon, his angled shot almost becoming a cross for his strike partner to prod in at the far post.
Witton assumed control though, making the most of space left in the centre of the pitch by Worksop boss Mark Shaw sending on forwards for midfielders.
Gardner’s drive scraped a post following Andrews’ disguised assist, then a swish of Hancock’s right boot sent a dipping shot in off the crossbar after Powell had helped the ball into his path.
Stewart was then unconvincing when shovelling Andrews’ free kick around an upright.
However Mettam made his mark in the fourth minute of added time, anticipating Quinn’s flick on from Stewart’s punt forward.
Witton, not for the first time, simply switched off.
Witton Star Man: Danny Andrews. Run close, very close, by Michael Powell. But Witton’s wide man posed a persistent threat to direct opponent Phil Roe, and was often the source of Albion’s best attacking moments.
Witton (4-5-1) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Bodie, Brown, Andrews, Breeze, Martyn Jackson, Powell, Hancock, Bakkor Subs not used Plant (GK), Moyo, Crofts, Dawson, Thompson Goals Powell 52, Hancock 74 Booked Bakkor, Powell (both fouls)
Worksop (4-3-3) Stewart (GK), Pursehouse (Mettam 61), Quinn, Gray, Roe, Scott, Clarke, Burrell, Muldoon, Denton (Garnett 82), Jamie Jackson (Higginson 55) Subs not used Salt, Goodfellow Goals Muldoon 28, Mettam 90 (+4) Booked Stewart (ungentlemantly conduct), Roe, Quinn, Higginson, Gray (all fouls)
Referee Dominic McDonald
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