Lodge looking at the positives as Stones prosper

Danny Barker, Blackstones.
Danny Barker, Blackstones.

Blackstones boss Andy Lodge was full of praise for his side’s performance despite losing their 100 per cent record on Wednesday night.

After three successive United Counties League Division One victories, Stones missed a string of good chances and were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

The draw saw Stones knocked off the top of the table, but Lodge was happy with his side’s display against a vastly-improved Melton side.

Lodge said: “I’m not going to rue the missed chances because I was pleased with the performance. I want to take the positives from the display.

“It was as good as we have been and, based on that performance, we looked a decent side.

“I’d rather be the team that missed chances than the one that held out and were happy with a point.

“I was happy with the performance and, although we should be finishing some of the chances, I can’t ask for any more from the lads.

“Melton had some good lads and looked a top six or seven side.

“Both clubs looked transformed from last season and hopefully the crowd came away having enjoyed the match.

“We are conceding too many goals which we need to cut out. We need to tighten up – and I will make sure we do.

“But the lads are doing everything we have asked of them and I’m pleased as punch with how we have started the season.”

Stones were quick out of the traps against a Melton side which had won 5-0 away at Long Buckby on Saturday.

Jones de Sousa saw an early effort cleared off the line while Matt Simpson headed over after Stones’ pressure had forced a succession of corners.

Danny Barker fired into the side netting after good link up play with Scott Ginty before home goalkeeper Aaron Bellairs was called into action for the first time with a smart block from a rare Melton foray.

The visitors then took the lead midway through the opening period as a slick move resulted in Matt Hendy finishing well.

Stones stormed back and visiting goalkeeper Tom Mortimer produced a brilliant finger-tip save to keep out a Scott Ginty header.

Barker was denied at close range by a smart Mortimer stop before de Sousa screwed a shot side when well placed as Melton held their advantage going into half-time.

The home side continued to make the running after the break with the lively de Sousa rattling the upright with a shot before squandering Stones’ best chance as he lobbed over the bar with just the advancing Mortimer to beat.

The pressure finally paid off when Barker’s marauding run was halted by an unfair challenge in the box and Ginty stepped up to convert from the penalty spot.

However, it wasn’t long before Melton were back in front again as the dangerous Tom Byrne held off a posse of Stones defenders to apply a composed finish past Bellairs.

Stones rallied again and a sublime free-kick from Ben Porter brought them back onto level terms as he curled home his effort past Mortimer into the top corner.

Melton though could have snatched all three points in the dying throes as Byrne went down under a heavy challenge in the home box, but referee Paul Dobbs waved away the visitors’ penalty appeals.

Stones take a break from league action on Saturday when they travel to league rivals Bugbrooke in the KO Cup. Deeping are also in action in the same competition and host Premier Division counterparts Cogenhoe at Outgang Road (3pm).

Stones: Bellairs, Bates, Stone, Simpson, Wilmer, French, Porter, Papworth, Barker, Ginty, de Sousa. Subs used: Piergianni, Pell. Not used: Carter, Easson, Butler.