Athletic’s turn to suffer late defeat

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SOME last-gasp goals are sweet and some are most definitely bitter.

Staveley’s strike in the dying embers of last night’s clash at Queensgate certainly slotted into the second category for Boro.

Rudy Funk’s men grabbed a late equaliser at Retford on Saturday, and they were pressing for the three points last night against fellow high-flyers Staveley, when disaster struck.

It wasn’t all about the late strike though, it was more about the performance that didn’t flow like the Boro displays of recent weeks.

In fact, it looked disjointed at times. Lacking the neat glide forward into the final third Boro had perfected to a tee.

The hosts had been boosted before the game by the news that the suspended Ryan Blott and full-back Paddy Miller had vowed to stay at the club.

Miller slotted into the side after a recovery from the weekend’s illness, with Dave Kemp dropping to the bench.

His inclusion couldn’t stop a heavy early blow for Boro, as Staveley snatched the ascendancy in the third minute.

A pacy attacking move swept the ball to Ryan Damms on the edge of the box. He in-turn fed Chris Coy, who wasn’t shy with a powerful finish.

Boro’s games do seem to taking a certain pattern in recent weeks, and this one was no different.

After conceding the early goal, Boro battered their rivals, but the end product was the only thing lacking.

Joe Naylor, who once again bossed the centre of the park, had Boro’s first opportunity, but his effort with the outside of his boot was saved.

There was glimpses of a link between Curtis Bernard and fellow striker Dean Windass as well.

Former Hull man Windass nodded a Jimmy Ghachem ball into Bernard’s path, but the ball didn’t set up and it was lashed against the clubhouse.

Windass may not have had the electric pace of his youth, but he did know where the ball was destined to fall.

He latched onto a pair of long balls, but the end product was missing, though only by inches.

With the minutes drifting away, the pace of Bernard allowed him to wriggle free and dink a cross into the mix-up of the penalty area.

Naylor charged gracefully onto the ball and smashed home his fourth in as many games.

The midfielder almost snatched his second in seconds, but his flick from a long Denny Ingram throw was tipped over.

Having finished the half in style, Boro maintained their push at the beginning of the new half.

Bernard found some space in the box and he fired a shot off the keeper that seemed destined for the net, that was until Kyle Fores-Chambers headed clear.

The action didn’t stop there as the ball was whipped back into the box and former Staveley man Luke Fletcher volleyed just wide.

The lights then seemed to go out on the action.

Boro did retain the ball and the possession stats would have made the statisticians swoon, but they did absolutely nothing with it. The only player to cause an intake of breath was largely ineffective sub Joel Hartley.

He waltzed free on the left and saw his cross bounce off the top of the bar.

Staveley may have been starved of the ball, but they did manage to feed on the bits and pieces that Boro left them.

On a rare break forward Andrew Fox lashed just over the bar.

And with two minutes of injury time played, they cut neatly through the Boro defence to take the points.

Sub Joe Thornton collected on the right touch-line, cut inside and picked out the top corner, sparking celebrations that wouldn’t have been out of place at the World Cup final.