Time is running out for Crowle United Reserves to escape relegation from Division Three of the Scunthorpe and District Sunday League after a 3-0 defeat to the hands of Real Priory.
Keys played with the wind at their backs in the first half and should have opened the scoring inside the first two minutes when Callum Brears scuffed an easy chance wide of the goal.
Three minutes later, a lone Priory forward received a throughball in the centre of the field and raced to the penalty area firing past Sam Thirkell to give the visitors the lead.
Brears almost made amends for his miss when he hit the bar with a wind-assisted cross but the biggest boost to Crowle’s chances came on 35 minutes when a Real defender disagreed with a refereeing decision and received a red card - giving Crowle a one-man advantage for nearly an hour.
Crowle captain Daniel Harrison almost equalised on the stroke of half time with a right-foot volley which struck the bar and bounced to safety.
The first incident of the second half made Crowle hearts skip a beat - Scott Soulby’s backpass went straight past an advancing Thirkell but, fortunately for Crowle, missed the goal and went out for a corner.
Playing against ten men should have seen the home team take control but their Scunthorpe visitors kept them at bay and even won a penalty which they coverted.
United restarted the game, now playing against nine men, but still could not break through Priory’s defence.
Eventually on 60 minutes, and with Real’s injured player back on the field, Curtis Brears forced the ball into the away goal but his effort was disallowed for offside.
Crowle appealed for a penalty of their own ten minutes from time when Ricky Girling was clattered by Real’s goalkeeper - the ball falling at Harrison’s feet but his shot was scrambled from the goalline back to the keeper’s hands.
Priory’s third goal would have been admired anywhere when their combative midfielder Hodges smashed a first-time shot into the roof of Crowle’s net from 25 yards to give the depleted side a 3-0 victory.
The Reserves have two weeks to recover before their next game when Robert Holme Hall visit Windsor Park on March 24.
•See more photos from Crowle’s crunch tie in this week’s new-look Epworth Bells (out every Thursday)
Match report submitted by Gareth Parkin.