Easington United made it three league wins in a row when they came from behind to claim a 3-2 victory at Blackburn Athletic.
An Adam Jamieson goal up early on, the locals saw their hosts turn the game on its head to lead 2-1 before Mark Thompson levelled matters in first half stoppage time. Liam Murrey then netted a 70th minute winner when finishing coolly after excellent work from Luke Jeffery to create the opening.
It was another encouraging day for The Eastenders whose line-up once again bore an unfamiliar look.
Although no official debutants – which in itself is something of a rarity for the team post-lockdown – there was a first appearance of the season at HPL level for John Harrison in goal; the Stiffs keeper deputising in the absence of both Steve Jamieson and Dave Whitelock.
Youngster Dan Lorimer retained his place alongside Adam Jamieson at the heart of the back four, with Andy Graham – having recovered from the knock that had forced him off the previous week – having to settle for a place on the bench. Luke Jeffery and the returning Dan Warcup completed the quartet.
In midfield, Thompson and Billy Symes occupied the wide berths, with a central trio of Craig Havercroft, Kris Fitzpatrick and Jack Wright providing the service for another returnee, Murrey, up top.
Vez Verity and Jaidan Spruce took up spots on the bench where skipper Luke Taylor, although named in the matchday squad, was employed solely as Craig Smalley’s assistant for the day in the absence of manager Craig Foster.
The locals gained the perfect start to proceedings when Adam Jamieson's speculative cross-cum-shot bounced over the advancing Billy Symes and home goalkeeper Lloyd Mulholland before nestling in the net after just 5 minutes.
Four minutes later play was held up for some time when Wright and an opponent sustained a clash of heads.
When play resumed, Blackies came more into things and levelled matters on 17 minutes following neat interplay down the right.
Murrey then passed up the chance to restore Easington’s lead seven minutes later when combining with Symes but the finish was high.
On 29 minutes Havercroft’s free-kick brought a scrambling save from Mulholland but when the action switched to the other end two minutes later, Blackies took the lead courtesy of a lovely turn and finish.
Stung by this Easington finished the half strongly. A succession of corners came to nothing and when Murrey flicked wide from another Havercroft set-piece two minutes before the break, it appeared the locals would have to settle for a half-time deficit.
Not so. In stoppage time, Mark Thompson seized on a mistake to slot past Mulholland and tie things up at 2-2.
The second half saw fewer opportunities, although Easington had a narrow escape on 59 minutes when the Blackies striker hit the post with Harrison beaten. The locals made the most of their escape.
As part of a double substitution on 65 minutes, Smalley moved Jeffery into midfield and the switch paid off ten minutes later when his great work allowed Murrey to race clear and slot the ball past Mulholland.
It was enough to clinch the points for his team and cap a man of the match performance by the industrious forward.
Afterwards Smalley told his players he’d “really enjoyed” watching them and praise what he termed their “super attitude, effort and performances from everyone involved”. Here’s to a repeat this week please...
Easington: John Harrison, Luke Jeffery, Dan Warcup, Kris Fitzpatrick, Adam Jamieson, Daniel Lorimer (Andy Graham, 65), Billy Symes, Craig Havercroft, Liam Murrey, Jack Wright (Jaidan Spruce, 65), Mark Thompson (Nathan Verity, 75)
Report: Richard Lusmore
Picture courtesy of Burt Graham