Shirebrook Town’s early-season misery continued on Saturday with a 3-2 defeat at Langwith Road against Lincolnshire side Louth Town in the NCEL Divison 1.
And that loss proved to be the final nail for manager Gary Castledine and assistant Jamie Kirk who later parted company with the club after only 10 games in charge, in a poor start to the season that has produced just three wins against seven defeats for Shirebrook.
Before the game, the home side had been hoping to end a run of three straight losses, but the in-form visitors started with plenty of confidence and took the lead through skipper Carl Martin with a headed goal that exposed Shirebrook’s poor marking from a free-kick after just eight minutes.
However, Shirebrook came more into the game after that and stunned Louth in a five minute period of sustained pressure that culminated with an equaliser through Jake Vernon who was hand in the box to pick up the bits, with Louth all over the place from Scott Rushton’s header and Chris Timons’ flick-on almost on the half-hour.
And it was no more than Shirebrook deserved, but all the home side’s good work was undone four minutes before the interval with a fine individual goal from Matthew Kennedy who beat two defenders after cutting in from the right, before drilling the ball low into the net from 20 yards to restore Louth’s one goal lead going into half-time.
And no doubt spurred on by that strike, Louth looked to press home their advantage after the break, and they seemed to have the game all but sown up when they doubled their lead through Andrew Willoughby with a scrappy far-post goal from Kennedy’s corner on the right, with just over quarter-of-an-hour to go.
Nevertheless, Shirebrook did at least make the final score look a little more respectable when two of the second half substitutes combined almost on the final whistle, and Lewis Jackson lashed the ball into the Louth net from 14 yards at the far post off brother Gavin’s cross from the right.
Shirebrook Town have already begun the search for replacements for Castledine and Kirk but, unless they appoint very quickly, the side faces the prospect of being managerless for the league game against Grimsby Borough at Langwith Road at 7.45pm on Wednesday, followed by the important FA Vase Second Round Qualifying tie against Leicestershire side Ellistown at 3 o’clock next Saturday.
Shirebrook Town: Boot, A Cheetham (G Jackson 69), Newman, Timons, Rushton, R Cheetham, Castledine, Walker, Vernon, O’Donnell (L Jackson), Harrison (Clayton 80). Subs not used: Parsons, Carter.
Louth Town: McTaggert, Leafe, Wood, Martin, Stevens, Hyland, Armstrong (Goodhand 74), Pawson, Willoughby, Kennedy (Rawlings 85), Wightwick (Broughton 29). Subs not used: Coulam, McSpadden.
Referee: Martin Chester (Lincolnshire)