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Leigh RMI 0 Vauxhall Motors 3

By Matt Lawton
March 23 2007

A truly lacklustre RMI performance saw them fall to a horrendous 3-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Vauxhall Motors, leaving Leigh in the relegation zone on goal difference following Worksop’s 2-1 defeat at previously second-bottom Scarborough. With inspirational goalkeeper John Lamb watching from the sidelines because of the one match ban that he received following his sending off in the 2-1 loss at Stalybridge earlier in the month, the number one shirt went to recent signing Peter Crookes, and in all fairness the former Cammell Laird and Skelmersdale goalkeeper had an absolute shocker of a debut, conceding three goals to a Motors side that has plummeted down the Conference North table in recent weeks with a poor run of results.

The inconsistency of RMI’s performances must surely be a huge worry for the management team of Stuart Humphreys and Andy Nelson, as it is certainly something that has concerned those on the terraces, with the valiant defeat at Stalybridge and terrific 3-1 victory over Blyth being overshadowed by comprehensive defeats to Barrow, Redditch and now Vauxhall Motors, three sides that are lower in the league and should be deemed ‘beatable’ should RMI retain their Conference North status come the end of the season.

Midfielder Hugh McAuley, initially predicted to miss the rest of the season because of an operation, made a shock return to the side as a substitute when Lee Unsworth was forced to withdraw through injury, though McAuley found himself on the field with RMI already a goal down when Lee Furlong took advantage of some poor marking to put his side in front from a corner.

Another player that made a shock return to the RMI fold was left-sided midfielder Andy Heald, a local lad who was a mainstay of the successful Conference RMI sides of the past and rejoining the club in it’s hour of need. In truth, no matter the amounts of prodigal sons returning to the team, few sides in this league would struggle to defeat RMI on this sort of form.

Furlong proved to be the scourge of RMI’s defence through the evening, scoring his side’s second goal after just ten minutes of the second half, although the Motors striker could be considered lucky to be on the field at that point, somehow avoiding a first half red card when he seemingly kicked RMI man Steve Porter in the midst of one of several midfield scrambles.

With Furlong left unmarked at the back post when heading his second goal, this time from a left-sided free kick, question marks must surely be raised over RMI’s ability to defend set pieces, while goalkeeper Crookes will surely have been disappointed not to keep out the attempt, having got a strong hand to it but failing to keep the ball from going in to the net.

The misery of the RMI faithful was merely further compounded with twenty minutes remaining when Thomas Rooney sliced through a virtually absent RMI defence to knock the ball beneath Crookes and give his side a three goal advantage.

Even with a large portion of time remaining, a fair percentage of the crowd started to drift towards the exits, with only the truly hardy of the Hilton Park faithful remaining at the final whistle to berate what was yet another hugely disappointing performance from the almost weekly “must win” game.

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