West slumped to consecutive defeats for the first time this season as they lost at home to Squires Gate for a second time. Manager Steve Settle was able to welcome back Rick Gleave into the squad whilst handing a debut to defender Nia Bayunu in defence and was boosted by the return of Lee Gavin in midfield. However there was no place for Matty Kay, Richmond Botchey and Rob Black who all missed out through injury.
West had faced Squires Gate back in August where they fell behind to a goal after 10 seconds and almost did again as they conceded a free kick from the edge of the area with the resultant kick flashing wide of the post. The reprieve was longer this time as Squires Gate took an 11th minute lead when a long punt up field fell to Captain Anthony Potts but the West defender under-hit his header back towards goal allowing Brett Dawson to sneak in ahead of goalkeeper Dean Williams and slot into the bottom corner.
In the swirling wind the game failed to find any rhythm with the visitors content to punt the ball long up the middle and chase whilst West’s football, although prettier on the eye, failed to break Squires Gate down. It took until 28 minutes to fashion a decent effort on goal as some superb one touch passing open up space for Joe Shaw but his shot was deflected over from the edge of the area.
As in August, the visitors were content to disrupt the flow of the game and three additional minutes were added at the end of the first half. It was in the second of these minutes that Squires Gate doubled their lead as West were found guilty of overplaying in front of their own penalty area as Bayunu’s clearance was blocked into the path of James Gibson and the striker powered his effort past Williams to stun the ground into silence.
A big reaction was demanded from the players by Setts at half time and he got on 56 minutes when Nia Bayunu powered home a header at the near post after Ben Steer’s long throw in. Two minutes later West were level as a cross from the right was flicked on into the path of Gleave who slotted his first time effort into the bottom right hand corner 6 yards out. In August, West battled back from two goals down only to immediate concede again and it was a sense of déjà vu on 64 mintues when Tanser’s cross was converted home on the goal-line by Ben Seear; their third attempt on goal.
West went in search of a third of their own as Ash Woods did well on the right taking on his man, his initial cross was handled but dropped kindly into the path of Gleave whose thunderous effort forced a superb save from the visiting goalkeeper. West rang the chances as Jonny Poizer volleyed just over on the half turn. West continued to increase their pressure on the game but were increasingly hampered by the visiting side’s time wasting as on more than one occasion the game was stopped due to a Gate player clutching his face. West piled on the pressure late on with Gleave volleying just over after another good move but couldn’t find a leveller that their second half play deserved.