• Rob McNeil

Walker's double sends Long Eaton to the top


Long Eaton Utd 2

J Walker 38pen, 89

Deeping Rangers 1

Ellis 53

Jamie Walker’s brace sent Long Eaton United to the top of the table as they overcame Deeping Rangers in a close-fought battle at Grange Park on Tuesday evening.

A plus six-goal difference on Gresley Rovers, the team situated in second place, means that United return to the top spot with a game in hand on most of the teams below.

After a lacklustre opening 30 minutes, Walker eventually netted Long Eaton’s first to give the Blues the lead going into half-time.

Robbie Ellis struck mid-way through the second half to pull the visitors level, but Walker sealed his brace and took his overall goal tally to double figures with only a few minutes left to play to secure all three points.

Alex Marshall in action against Deeping Rangers. Photo: Long Eaton Utd.

Craig Swinscoe took charge of the Blues for this league fixture, and he opted to make two changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Boston Town at the weekend – Micah Jebbison came in for the absent Kameron Campbell and Ben Hutchinson started ahead of Marley Fearon, who was joined on the bench by the returning Bartosz Korzeniewski and Mitchell Robinson.

Both Long Eaton and Deeping were fairly slow out of the blocks, with no real chances registered in the opening 15 minutes, and both sides ultimately looking to take control of the ball, but to no avail.

The first chance in fact only came in the 25th minute, after Dan Banister’s cross was swung into the box and met by the head of Ellis, however, the forward could only glance his header onto the post and out of play.

Twelve minutes later, Walker opened the scoring when the Blues were awarded a penalty for a Deeping handball inside the box. The winger stepped up to take the penalty and – as calmly as ever – dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom right corner, wrong-footing Dan Swan in between the sticks.

The first half ended in identical fashion to how it began, with neither side registering any clear-cut chances, so both sides went in at the break with some real tactical changes to make.

Only two minutes after the restart, Ellis was gifted another chance for the visitors. Given too much time and space inside the box, the Deeping forward struck a snapshot half volley towards the near post, but Sam Wilson saved comfortably down low to his left.

Deeping eventually capitalised on a counterattack in the 53rd minute, when Banister and Ellis combined once again, with Banister’s cross this time sent towards goal by Ellis with a volley from close range that beat the staggering Sam Wilson.

Twenty minutes of possession-based play ended with Deeping coming close once again - an in-swinging corner was sent towards the far post and Jack Bloodworth – loitering off his marker - connected with a strike that looped up and onto the roof of the net.

Long Eaton had to throw everything forward in the final ten minutes as they pushed to try and nab a late winner – substitute James Shaw came close with an effort in the 84th minute.

The winger's weaving footwork took him past his marker and allowed him to cut onto his stronger right foot before driving to goal and unleashing a thunderous strike, but the shot ended up flying wide of the target.

With only three minutes left to play, it seemed as if the winner was never going to come for the Blues, especially when Keiran Walker almost etched his name onto the scoresheet with a strike that had to be tipped over the bar by Swan.

Nevertheless, Long Eaton pushed on, and eventually, they were rewarded for all their efforts with a quite remarkable goal from Jamie Walker. A corner in the 89th minute whipped in by the winger, beat everyone – even the keeper – and curled just inside the far post.