Double signing as Lodge looks to refresh Stones

Lee Clarkes celebrates scoring for Blackstones on Saturday.
Lee Clarkes celebrates scoring for Blackstones on Saturday.
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Blackstones boss Andy Lodge has vowed to ring the changes to ensure his side’s United Counties League Division One title challenge stays on track.

Stones travel to face Buckingham Town on Saturday looking to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing display in their table-topping tussle at Raunds.

A 2-1 away defeat not only saw Stones miss the chance to regain pole position but dropped them down to fifth in a closely-contested division.

Defeat at Buckingham on Saturday will see the Robins also leapfrog Stones and boss Lodge has brought in two players this week to boost his charges.

Highly-rated youngster Josh Edmondson has made the switch from Peterborough League Premier Division side Ketton while midfielder Jamie Scott has joined on loan from Evo-Stik Division One South side Peterborough Sports.

Lodge explained: “Everything was there for us at Raunds on Saturday. It was a nice day, no wind or rain, it’s a decent set-up and nice pitch, but it was only the experienced players doing their jobs.

“It wasn’t a big enough occasion for us to freeze, but we were not at it. Raunds kept the ball better than us and, for anyone watching, we looked a bottom six side.

“We were bang average and I’m not prepared to accept that. We were just going through the motions.

“We are obviously doing better than last season, but I want to keep in the mix and I’m not convinced the players are good enough to do that.

“We need to freshen things up because I don’t want to see stale performances. We need to press on now and keep improving ourselves.”

Stones got off to a flying start at Kiln Park on Saturday as Stamford loanee Lee Clarke put them ahead after just five minutes.

Danny Barker intercepted a loose ball in midfield and surged forward before finding Jones de Sousa who jinked his way into the box before squaring for Clarke to calmly side-foot home the opening goal.

However, Barker pulled up injured shortly after and the enforced change disrupted Stones who were pegged back seven minutes before half-time.

A weak back pass was intercepted by the prolific Ty Clark who brought the Shopmates level with his 13th goal of the season.

The second half saw the tide change with Raunds in the ascendency and they pressed home their advantage after 68 minutes when Joe Chubb fired home through a crowd of players.

Stones rallied and de Sousa brought a decent save out of the home goalkeeper before Clarke rattled the crossbar with a powerful header.

Stones: Bellairs, Easson, Wilmer, Pell, Simpson (Boome), Musgrove (Butler), Jelleyman, Papworth, Barker (Carter), Clarke, de Sousa. Not used: French.

Saturday’s trip to Buckingham is followed on Wednesday night by a League Cup clash at home to Premier Division side Peterborough Northern Star.

Scott Musgrove, who misses Saturday’s match, will be back for the cup clash against his former club, but de Sousa and Barker are both out while top scorer Liam Harrold is suspended.

Stamford loanee Clarke is expected to stay with Stones this weekend as he continues to work towards full match fitness.