Throwing away a 2-0 lead, newly-promoted Ollerton Town were made to wait for their first league points of the season after a second-half collapse against the early leaders, Eccleshill United.
The match was the proverbial game of two halves as Ollerton dominated the opening period, scored through Callam Atkinson and Lewis Bingham, and could easily have added two or three more goals.
But after the break, Eccleshill looked a completely different team, levelled the score and then surged to a 4-2 victory with a couple of strikes in the final two minutes.
It all left the Bradford side top of the Toolstation Northern Counties East League (NCEL), First Division table with an unblemished record after three matches, but Ollerton third from bottom after three defeats.
There was little sign of what was to come when the visitors took the lead inside the first ten minutes. Bingham did well on the right wing to send in a cross, which evaded goalkeeper Lewis Hindley and found Atkinson, a yard out, waiting to head home.
Ollerton continued to look dangerous down the right and nearly added a second when nobody was on hand to meet Tom Cooke’s fizzed ball across the face of
In the absence of regular strikers Kyle Ludlow and Danny Wiltshire, the away side were forced to ask utility-man Atkinson to play up top and he continued to cause the Eccleshill defence problems. When his flick-on sent Josh Bowkett through on goal, an attempted lob was saved by Hindley in what was another golden chance.
Ollerton went close again moments later when Atkinson went through and although Hindley was equal to his effort, Bingham did well to win the rebound and teed up Josh Bowkett, whose shot was blocked.
The visitors’ search for a second goal was proving to be a frustrating one but they finally got their reward when Sam Stretton took a free-kick quickly and played through Bingham, who caught the Eccleshill backline napping. After rounding the ‘keeper, he slid home his third of the season.
Adam Turner had the hosts’ only real chance of the half when his effort clipped the outside of the post. But if the first period was comfortable for Ollerton, the second was anything but as Eccleshill took control.
Turner had their first chance, heading on to the top of the net, before they halved the deficit through Marcus Edwards, who fired low across goal from the right of the area.
Ollerton responded by almost restoring their two-goal lead as Cooke delivered a cross from the right which defender Matty Stor turned against his own post, with Hindley stranded.
But the momentum swung in the home side’s favour, heavily influenced by substitute Luke Harrop, who produced a performance that had fans wondering why he hadn’t been on from the start. In fact it was Harrop who scored the equaliser, hitting a well-struck effort past Simon Smith from the left side of the area.
Ollerton have been victim to several late goals already this season, conceding a 92nd minute winner against Grimsby Borough on the opening day before a 90th minute equaliser and 120th minute winner saw them lose out to Harrogate in the cup during midweek. And true to the trend, there was to be more late heartbreak although, to be fair, an Eccleshill winner always looked inevitable.
Anil Singh had only been on the pitch ten minutes when he picked up the ball inside the box and found the bottom corner to make it 3-2 and spark wild celebrations from the home players.
With the game in its dying embers, Ollerton pushed centre-back Brandon Shaw up front in a last-ditch attempt to salvage something. But in the last minute of added time, Eccleshill hit them on the counter-attack to add a fourth goal as Alex Cusack went through to smash the ball into the net.
The outcome left Ollerton thoroughly frustrated by their poor start to life in the NCEL. Their first-half performance was excellent, but they just tired in the second period and Eccleshill took full advantage.
However, everyone at the club believes the points will come soon rather than later, and focus now turns to Saturday’s home game against Dronfield Town.