With Avenue depleted by the loss of Simon Richman and Jamie Spencer to injury and suspension respectively, the squad showed good strength in depth but just couldn’t find the finishing touch and fell to a 1 – 0 defeat against visitors Spennymoor.
An excellent opportunity to take the lead had come after only three minutes when hesitancy between the keeper and a defender on the edge of the penalty area enabled Sam Fielding to nip in and steal the ball but, in being forced wide, Avenue were unable to capitalise.
After a promising first quarter for the home side in which a tricky run from inside his own half by Shane Maroodza ended with Will Longbottom firing just over from 18 yards, Spennymoor then sounded a warning with George Sykes-Kenworthy appearing to get a touch on a fierce rising angled shot which hit the near post. The visitors then took the lead after forty minutes with a well-worked goal which seemed to take the wind out of Avenue’s sails for a while.
As Avenue tried to bounce back after half-time, Andre Brooks had a goal disallowed for offside and shortly afterwards Will Longbottom was put through on goal, but a defender did just enough to prevent him getting in a clean shot and the keeper made a comfortable save.
The visitors, however, were continuing to look dangerous and had one close-range shot which clipped the home crossbar.
In making attacking substitutions during the last half hour to try to get something out of the game, Eddie Church found space at the far post from a free kick but had his angled shot kept out by the keeper’s foot. Avenue then had to wait until the final minutes for another good chance to get an equaliser when, from ten yards out, Jacob Blyth blasted a loose ball towards goal following a corner only for a defender to somehow stick out a leg and divert the ball round the post.
The Spennymoor players’ reaction to this told that they knew without that important intervention they would have been heading back north with only one point.
When the referee then failed to spot a blatant push in the penalty area, it went to prove that it was just not Avenue’s day.
It may be of little consolation at the present time, but Avenue’s first three opponents of the season at Horsfall all currently sit in the top six. And, while the table does not lie over the course of a season, it could easily be argued from the overall form of the side so far, that Avenue deserve a higher placing in the League than the one they currently occupy.
Manager Mark Bower was to say afterwards: ‘Nothing’s going our way at the minute. It’s been a difficult start for us. We’re just coming out the wrong side of tight games.’
From a Spennymoor perspective, their stand-in skipper Joe Tait was relieved to get the win, stating: ‘It was a magnificent three points because they’re no mugs, they’ll take points off teams, particularly on this pitch. It was a tough game.’
Team: Sykes-Kenworthy; Odunston, Staunton; Lund, Havern, Maroodza (Church 61); Hopper, Fielding, Blyth, Brooks (Smith 85), Longbottom (Johnson 70). Unused subs: Hall, Nowakowski.
Avenue yellow cards: Maroodza (52), Staunton (90).
You can watch the highlights from Mondays game below.