Squires Gate 0 Stone Dominoes 1

Neil Beesley prevents Dwayne Spence opening the scoring for Stone

Neil Beesley prevents Dwayne Spence opening the scoring for Stone

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GATE’S hopes of avoiding relegation from the North West Counties Premier suffered a major setback with this home defeat by the bottom side.

Without a league point since December 1, this result allied to St Helens’ win ove Silsden has seen the Blackpool side slip into the bottom two.

The home team started the brighter and found ways to break through the Stone defence but they had nothing to show for their efforts.

Indeed, it was the visitors who had the first chance of note, when a goal-line clearance from Jamie Nay prevented them taking the lead.

At the other end, skipper Tom Benfield rattled the post with a 20-yard free-kick on 25 minutes, then Neil Beesley was called upon to make a great save to keep Gate on terms. Dominoes striker Dwayne Spence shook of his marker and forced the keeper into a fine diving save. The ball ran free but Beesley reacted quickly to clear the danger with his right heel.

Striker Alan Coar looked to have put Gate ahead with a cunning backheel on the half-hour but Stone keeper Jake Ratcliffe made a fingertip save to deflect the ball for a corner.

Early in the second half, Ben Proctor and Jason Simpson both went close for Gate.

The former’s shot was pushed just wide by Ratcliffe and Simpson’s header found the side-netting.

The winner arrived on 59 minutes, when Spence broke clear on the left, cut inside adn gave Beesley no chance as the shot that crashed into the net off the underside of the crossbar.

Despite plenty of home pressure, the closest they came to an equaliser was when Jason Dodwell’s header from one of many corners flew inches wide.

Tomorrow night (7.45pm), Gate have a rearranged visit to fourth-placed Bootle, who scored four against Gate two weeks ago at the Royal British Legion Stadium.

DAN BRAID

Gate: Beesley, Rogan, Nay, Baker, Darnell, Benfield, Dodwell, McEvoy, Coar, Simpson, Proctor; subs McKenna, Walker, Thornber.