Town pride for Lions after beating Bels to claim silverware
Stamford Lions claimed the town bragging rights after beating near neighbours Stamford Bels to lift the Ancaster Cup at Bourne Town's Abbey Lawn ground on Monday night.
A goal in each half from Josh Collins and Tom Lees helped secure the success for the Peterborough League Premier Division side after Bels had got back on level terms through James Betts.
Triumphant Lions boss James Sheehan was delighted to finish off his side's season with some silverware against his former club who had lifted the PFA Challenge Cup on Friday night.
Sheehan said: "It's a great way to wrap up the season with a cup final win, especially when it's a high stakes game against our town rivals.
"The Bels boys can be proud of their own cup final success, but as far as this game was concerned it was one of those 'must-win' situations for us.
"I'm delighted we edged a tough game and can now relax before the hard work starts again pre-season.
"On behalf of everyone at Lions, I would like to thank our continued support from our sponsors and supporters throughout this season."
Lions made a bright start to the final which attracted a healthy crowd of close to 200 spectators for the derby duel.
Tom Cardall fired an early opening over the crossbar while Keenan Murphy in the Bels goal had to be alert to block a close range effort from Jake Walton after his surge into the box.
The effects of Friday night's herculean efforts looked to have taken their toll on Bels as Lions continued to pepper the Division One's side goal in search of a breakthrough.
Murphy and Dave Atkinson both made crucial blocks after goalmouth scrambles before Tyler Sculthorpe produced a terrific last-ditch tackle to deny Collins breaking clear with Ben Mason then having to head off the line to keep out Danny Sheehan's header from the resultant corner.
Pete Conneely headed wide from a Betts free-kick as Bels responded, but they were struggling to contain the lively Collins and it was the Lions frontman who broke the deadlock nine minutes before half-time.
An excellent through ball from Dan Aust released Collins who produced a composed finish to create space and then rifle home past Murphy.
Bels, to their credit, responded well to going behind and got back on level terms with a fortuitious equaliser.
Betts' harmless effort from outside the box looked to be easy pickings for Lions goalkeeper John Swales, but he misjudged an awkward bounce and fumbled the ball into his net.
The equaliser sparked new life into Bels and Swales immediately made amends with a stunning save to turn away Alfie Winters' sweet strike which flew through a crowd of players to ensure the scores remained level at half-time.
Lions started the second half on the offensive and swung in a number of inviting crosses into the Bels box which were not converted.
Aust's centre just evaded the incoming Collins with the goal at his mercy while Murphy plunged full length to tip away a header from Neil Speck that was destined for the bottom corner.
Bels also had their moments with Matt Leeton curling a decent effort just over while Sam Ford also shot high after bursting into the box.
They looked to suffered a setback when influential defender Conneely went down clutching his shoulder which appeared to have popped out.
However, after clicking it back in place himself, Conneely was back in action within minutes to help fend off the Lions attacks.
Tom Edwards fired just wide with a well-connected effort while another Walton cross saw substitute Lees just fail to convert.
However, Lees made no mistake with 17 minutes remaining to net the crucial goal that secured cup success for Lions.
Swales had minutes earlier produced a superb save to palm away a free-kick from Jordan Neil and Lions roared back on the offensive to force a corner.
The near post delivery was cleared into the path of Lees who reacted first to smash home what proved to be the winning goal and settle a keenly-contested derby duel.
Lions: Swales, Hudson, Aust, Webb, Sheehan, Sanderson, Walton, Collins, Edwards, Cardall, Speck. Subs: Hedley, Lippett, Lees, Johnson.
Bels: Murphy, Leeton, Sculthorpe, Conneely, Mason, Betts, Cramp, Atkinson, L Morley, Neil, Winters. Subs: McDonald, J Morley, O'Donnell, Gilson, Ford.
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