An inspired pair of substitutions ensured Eynesbury Rovers made a swift return to winning ways ahead of their biggest game of the season.
Manager Mark Ducket sent on Rhys Thorpe and Danny Webb in a double-change midway through the second half of their United Counties League Premier Division fixture at Peterborough Northern Star on Wednesday night.
And it reaped rewards when the duo combined for the only goal of the night with six minutes to go. Thorpe slipped in Webb who coolly stepped inside a defender and steered a finish past goalkeeper Dan George.
The hard-earned success, against a Star side so negative they could have been managed by Jose Mourinho, eased third-placed Eynesbury back to within six points of table-toppers Peterborough Sports - and they host the Premier Division pacesetters at Hall Road tomorrow.
Ducket said: “It’s always nice when substitutions have a positive impact on the game so it was great to see Rhys and Danny to combine for the goal.
“It wasn’t our best performance by any means, but we picked up the three points and that was essential after seeing our winning run end last Saturday.
“I felt in that defeat at Leicester Nirvana that the lads had one eye on the Sports game, and it was also the case against Northern Star.
“I know the Sports management team watched us at Northern Star and I doubt they will have been too impressed.
“I have no doubt that we are a good team when at our best, but Sports look to be an exceptional one from their results so far.
“Hopefully we can make it a tough game for them and we need to ensure we perform.”
Ex-Northern Star player Hayden Bream was denied a goalscoring return to his old club on Wednesday by two fine saves from home goalkeeper Dan George during the first half.
And it proved to be a frustrating night for fellow former Star man Craig Smith. Rovers’ top scoer put a glorious early chance over the bar before being denied a stonewall penalty.
That was one of many befuddling decisions from referee David Avison, another being his award of a drop-ball after Smith had been forced off with a blow to the head after being crudely clattered in mid-air by Star defender Wilkins Makate.
Avison did at least manage to arrive at the correct conclusion dismissing Star midfielder Conor Murphy for a challenge on Jordan Brown in the closing stages which Ducket described as ‘disgusting’.
Tempers flared in the aftermath of that incident which arrived moments after Eynesbury had grabbed the only goal of the night.