Stones boss Lodge wants to maintain momentum

Danny Barker, Blackstones
Danny Barker, Blackstones
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Blackstones boss Andy Lodge is urging his side to maintain the momentum after their impressive start to the new season.

Stones have won both matches to e early pacesetters in Division One of the United Counties League.

They face a Thrapston side at Lincoln Road on Saturday who have also won back-to-back games to set up an early season table-topping tussle.

And Lodge wants his charges to take the confidence of gaining two victories into Saturday’s clash which is followed by another home match on Wednesday night when Melton Town are the visitors.

Lodge said: “It’s still early stages and I’m obviously not going to get carried away, but I’m really happy that we’ve won both our opening games.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from Rushden & Higham on Saturday, but we were pretty comfortable and we’ve told the lads how important it is to win our home games.

“Getting a good start was always key because momentum is what helps win football matches. That third game would have been tough if we had lost the first two, but the lads are confident and already looking forward to trying to get another good result.”

Stones will go into Saturday’s clash without the services of influential trio Scott Ginty, Jake Pell and Andy Boome.

The experienced duo of Liam Harrold and Daniel French are expected to come into contention for a start as Lodge looks for healthy competition for places.

He added: “Thrapston are going to be a decent side and we’ve got a few missing, but we’ve got a big squad and it gives others a chance to stake their claim because everyone is keen to fight for their place.

“The league looks open this year so it’s good we’ve got a couple of wins on the board and hopefully we can keep pushing forward.

“We were down the bottom last season and that’s obviously where the club doesn’t want to be. The chairman said we should be aiming for the top six this year because that would show the club is moving in the right direction.

“But with the squad we’ve got I think we should be doing a bit better and the top three should be our target.”

After an opening day success at Burton Park Wanderers, Stones followed that up with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Rushden & Higham on Saturday.

Stones piled on the pressure in the early stages and a rash challenge by the visiting goalkeeper on Joe Papworth saw Stones awarded a penalty.

However, the subsequent spot kick was missed and it took Stones until the 38th minute to finally break the deadlock.

A clearance fell to Jones De Sousa who, spotting the keeper off his line, lobbed the ball over the stranded custodian and into the net.

The lead was doubled just two minutes later when Papworth rounded the oncoming keeper and crossed for Danny Barker to head home.

Rushden rallied after the break, but Stones defended well and goalkeeper Aaron Bellairs was rarely tested.

Stones: Aaron Bellairs, Jack Bates, Lewis Stone, Matt Simpson, Rikki Wilmer, Andy Boome, Ben Porter (Matthew Carter), Joe Papworth, Jones De Souza, Scott Ginty, Danny Barker (Daniel French). Subs unused Jake Pell, Nicky Butler, Liam Harrold.