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Farnborough Town 2-3 Morecambe

TWO late defensive lapses cost Farnborough Town dear in their bid to beat the drop as Ryan-Zico Black climbed off the substiutes benhc to cause more heartache for Boro boss Ian McDonald.

IAN McDonald and his Farnborough Town side hit the road for another lengthy midweek trip at Chester City tonight, knowing that three points are vital if they are to win the battle to avoid the drop.

Macca will be encouraged by the efforts of Woking, who picked up a 2-2 draw at the Deva Stadium on Saturday, and while City are now guaranteed a Play-Off spot with Yeovil already declared champions, now could just be a good time to take points off Mark Wright's men.

One thing is for sure though, Macca's men will have to defend an awful lot better than they did on Saturday if they are to use their game in hand wisely.

Three slip-ups in the visit of Morecambe on Saturday led to three goals and subsequent defeat. And with Nuneaton winning and Woking, Leigh RMI and Gravesend all picking up points, they could prove costly.

When Morecambe danger man, striker Adriano Rigoglioso, limped off with a foot injury mid-way through the second half, many thought Boro, level at 1-1 at the time, would have gone on to claim maximum points.

But his replacement Ryan-Zico Black, named after the legendary Brazilian number 10, struck a crucial late double to spark mass celebrations and condemn Boro to another nervous week in the thick of the intense relegation battle.

A disappointed Macca said: "I'm distraught and I've got 16 distraught players down there as well. It was a poor performance in the first half where we could have been dead and buried and lots of choice words were said at half time and a few home truths told.

"But the players have come out in the second half and responded really well, putting ourselves in a winning position twice. We've then committed Hari-Kari at the back and conceded two very bad goals.

"We played much of that game like a mid-table team with no pressure. Well, there's a lot of pressure on us now and it will be interesting to see how we react to that."

Although his starting eleven remained the same, Macca opted to revert back to a 4-4-2 with Darren Annon moving to right back, leaving Chris Piper with the freedom of bombing forward from right midfield.

But that all changed when key loan midfielder Geoff Pitcher limped off yet again with a bruised foot after being accidentally stamped on by Morecambe's Lee Collins. Piper switched back and Dean Green took his place out wide.

But whatever formation Macca picked, it could do nothing about Morecambe's blistering start which set the tone for a fast, free-flowing game.

Rigoglioso floated over his fifth corner in as many minutes, Boro failed to clear and Lee Elam rifled home off the unfortunate Jim Rodwell to break the deadlock - this before Boro had even tied their laces.

Rigoglioso was a menace all afternoon, first producing a first save from Tony Pennock with an exquisite 30-yard volley before firing just over from similar distance.

Shell-shocked Boro did, however, start to motor as the minutes ticked and Lenny Piper went within inches of levelling the scores with a thunderous drive from 15 yards which crashed against the crossbar.

The loss of Pitcher was crucial, and when Garry Butterworth followed him into the treatment room at half time, the boss was forced to re-organise again - especially as Pennock worked wonders to prevent Rigoglioso from twice adding to the scoreline just before the break.

But the half-time tongue-lashing seemed to work, as Boro dug their heels in and eventually forced a 52nd minute equaliser.

Tony Taggart's corner from the right was half-fisted clear by keeper Craig Mawson, Rodwell headed the ball back into the danger-zone, and at the second attempt, Joff Vansittart was on hand to bundle the ball home at the near post.

Boro were now on a roll, but after Taggart fired wide on the half volley from a good position and referee Woolmer waved away two strong penalty appeals, it didn't look like being their day.

And their suspicions were confirmed when Black, on the field just four minutes for the injured Rigoglioso, latched onto Garry Thompson's knock-back after slack marking to fire home from 12 yards.

But the goal of the day was still to come, and courtesy of a little bit of luck, it duly arrived for the home side.

Iain Swan headed away from under his goalkeeper's throat, Gary Patterson expertly floated the ball back into the box on the volley, and with the sweetest of lobs, Ken Charlery levelled up once again with Mawson well beaten.

A point would have probably sufficed for Boro, but as any other team at the foot of the table will tell you, it's not quite as simple as that.

With a share of the spoils almost guaranteed, Black dispossessed Darren Annon, striker Wayne Curtis pulled marker Christian Lee out wide, leaving the aptly-named Zico time and space to run into the box and slide the ball past a bewildered Pennock, thus booking his side a well-deserved Play-Off place.

The disappointment was for all to see, but with Pitcher largely expected to pass a late fitness test at Chester tonight, hopes are still high of a late push for survival.

BORO: Pennock; C Piper, Taggart, Annon, Lee, Rodwell, Pitcher (sub Green 31mins), L Piper, Vansittart (Charlery 74), Baptiste, Butterworth (Patterson 45). Not used: Harkness, Osborn.

Ref: K Woolmer. Att: 803.

l The Supporters Club are running a coach to Margate on Saturday, leaving at 11.30am. To book, call Nick on 07734 472437.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
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