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Leigh RMI 1 Stalybridge Celtic 3

By Matt Lawton
January 20 2007

A dismal first half performance proved to be the downfall of RMI as they fell to a disappointing defeat to relegation rivals Stalybridge Celtic at a windswept Hilton Park. Last weekend saw RMI put up a gallant performance in a 3-1 defeat against the full-timers of Stevenage Borough but that spirit was sadly lacking throughout the afternoon as they sluggishly surrendered to the more determined and resourceful attacking of Stalybridge, who in truth were in far more control of the encounter than the final scoreline suggests.

An RMI back four minus the injured Steve Brockley and Gavin Lee-Ellison were always likely to have their backs against the wall, particularly in the face of a strong wind in the first half, but the manner of the defeat was certainly hard to stomach for the RMI faithful who have now seen their side lose their last three encounters since boss Stuart Humphreys was confirmed as the Conference North Manager of the Month for December.

Both sides struggled to command any threat as they came to grips with the conditions, and it wasnít until just before the half hour mark that the visitors took the lead with the first serious attack of the game when Lee Ellington, brother of former Wigan striker Nathan, was the provider for Stalybridge forward Steve Brodie to score against his former side, despite a desperate attempt from John Lamb to keep it out, with the RMI goalkeeper getting a hand to the volley but couldnít prevent the ball from creeping over the line.

Leigh slowly started to kick themselves in to gear, with Chris Simm firing the ball in to the side netting almost immediately after his side had gone behind before sending a tame header straight in to the arms of the goalkeeper.

It was still the visitors who largely dominated though, and it came as no surprise when some awful defending from a corner allowed Ellington, who was to be sent off in stoppage time at the end of the game for showing dissent at the refereeís failure to award a Celtic penalty, to score a scrappy goal from close range with four minutes of the first half remaining.

After such a poor showing in the first half, it was hoped that RMI would come out with all guns blazing for the second half, but they were lucky not to fall further behind within minutes of the restart when an Ellington header smacked the crossbar, with the rebound being cleared off the line by conveniently positioned full back Andy Roscoe.

Leigh winger David Eaton sparked hopes of a comeback when he broke clear of the Stalybridge defence, but his poor shot across the face of goal summed up RMIís day before the visitors went 3-0 up with a Mark Hume volley that Lamb stranded in no manís land on the edge of his penalty area.

RMI did finally manage to pull a goal back with just over twenty minutes remaining when Chris Simm latched on to an Eaton through ball and finished superbly, but the hosts, despite the introduction of pacy forwards Kingsley Jones and Ben Lugsden, failed to broke down the stubborn Celtic defence and as such fall to eighteenth place in the Conference North table ahead of Blyth Spartansí visit to Hilton Park on Tuesday evening.

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