Sluggish start sends Stamford Lions out of Lincs Junior Cup

Danny Sheehan was on target for Stamford Lions in Saturday's defeat.
Danny Sheehan was on target for Stamford Lions in Saturday's defeat.
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Stamford Lions paid the price for a poor opening half-hour as they crashed out of the Lincs Junior Cup at the first hurdle on Saturday.

James Sheehan’s side had gone into the away clash at Boston League side Skegness United on the back of five straight victories.

However, the lengthy journey must have taken its toll on Lions who early on showed none of the desire or energy that has been seen in the last few weeks.

Skegness opened the scoring when a long crossfield ball was not dealt with and the unmarked forward slotted home.

With the Lions looking lethargic, Skegness piled on the pressure and the lead was soon doubled when some quick passing presented an opportunity.

Debutant teenage goalkeeper Joel Holzer got his hands to the shot but the ball bounced kindly for the home side and wrong-footed Joe Lippett to roll into the corner.

A 30-yard free-kick was then rifled into the top corner and the Stamford side were 3-0 down and in danger of getting a thrashing.

However, they finally sparked into life and Luke Ball ran in behind the defence and was clattered by the outrushing keeper.

A penalty was awarded and Ball slotted home the spot kick and it was game on.

Tom Lees then crashed a header against the bar from a Rob Forster cross before Danny Sheehan rose highest to head in a corner.

On the stroke of half-time controversy arose when Lees fired a low shot that was palmed away, Ball raced after it and slotted home.

First the goal was given but was then taken away after a conversation with the referee which highlighted the fact there was a possibility that Ball ran from an offside position. The referee decided to chalk off the goal and award a free kick for offside.

The Lions were far more fired up for the second half and they penned the home side in their own half as Rob Montgomery headed over before Ball saw an effort bounce off the woodwork.

The equaliser came on the hour when Ball curled a shot into the top corner.

With the scores level, it looked like the Lions were the team who were going to go on and win as they created chance after chance but failed to convert.

Lees stabbed a shot wide before Ball also miscued a shot as his hat trick looked likely and then Luca Ellwood rolled a shot wide of the post while the keeper bravely blocked at the feet of Forster.

With ten minutes remaining Skegness won another free kick 30 yards from goal and it stunned the visitors as again as a drive found the top corner to reinstate the lead.

Lions threw everything at trying to draw level but the home side defended resolutely and held them at bay as the game ended 4-3.

Sheehan said: “If we had played the first 30 minutes of the game like we played the last hour, I’m pretty certain we would have won comfortably.

“That said it was a good fightback from our lads and made for a very exciting game, the two free kicks were just worldies.

“We played a mixed side, with three new lads debuting and three others having their first start of the season, so nothing too negative but it’s a long way home after a defeat.”