Blackstones beat Lutterworth Athletic in United Counties League Division One clash at the ALH Recruitment Stadium
Joint player-boss Lee Clarke blasted a hat-trick as Blackstones returned to winning ways on Wednesday night.
Clarke’s treble helped his side to a 5-1 home victory over United Counties League Division One basement side Lutterworth Athletic at the ALH Recruitment Stadium.
It was a welcome return to form for the Stamford side who had gone into the clash after picking up just two points from their last five league games.
Clarke – whose hat-trick haul took his goal tally for the season to 33 – said: “It was all about getting a result really.
“With all due to respect to Lutterworth, if you’re going to pick a game you have to win then it will be at home to a side who are bottom of the league.
“We haven’t been at our best recently so it could have more difficult for us, but we performed well and looked back to being our old selves.
“We thought the three-weeks of postponements might give us a chance to reset, but we came unstuck at Raunds on Saturday when we were punished for making mistakes at one end and not putting our chances away at the other.
“The lads were bubbly before the game on Wednesday night though. The attitude was very positive and it could have been more than 5-1.”
Clarke gave Stones a 10th minute lead when he headed home the opening goal before doubling the advantage just before half-time from the penalty spot.
After Lutterworth had halved the deficit, Clarke completed his treble just past the hour mark before Jones De Sousa added a fourth with 17 minutes remaining.
Josh Edmondson then sealed the success with a fifth goal after 80 minutes to move Stones back up into sixth spot.
Clarke continued: “Finishing in the top four has gone now so we’ve just got to get ourselves as high up the table as we can.
“We want to put as many points on the board as possible and win as many games as we can and then we’ll see at the end of the season where that has taken us.”
Stones had been unable to break their barren run as they returned from three weeks of inactivity with a 2-1 away defeat at Raunds Town on Saturday.
Missed and squandered chances again proved to be Stones’ downfall as they suffered a third successive defeat.
Stones started the Division One match strongly and played with purpose and speed.
The home team defended resolutely and repelled the Stones attack, but the visiting defence and midfield were able to peg Raunds back into their own half.
Jones De Sousa threatened the home goal but saw his efforts fly wide or high before he was denied in a one-on-one by the Raunds keeper midway through the first half.
The shot was diverted away and, as Jack Bates raced to collect the rebound he was upended, which saw Clarke give Stones the lead from the penalty spot.
However, the lead only last nine minutes as Stones gave away a free-kick just inside the home half.
The ball was quickly pumped forward and, with Stones failing to react, the advancing striker pulled a shot across the goal and into the net.
The second half saw Stones battling against a freshening wind and they struggled to make any impact on the home goal.
As both teams plugged away in the centre of the park the game entered into a stalemate phase before the Shopmates grabbed what proved to be a 76th minute winner.
Raunds pushed forward down the right before crossing into the box and, as Stones goalkeeper Aaron Bellairs shifted his position to narrow the angle he slipped, allowing the home side an unimpeded shot on goal for the winner.
Stones: Bellairs, Easson, Bates, Pell, Wilmer, Boome, Cowles, Moore-Papworth, De Sousa (Morley), Clarke, French (Edmondson). Subs not used: Simpson, Buttery.
Stones travel to second-from-bottom Huntingdon on Saturday before a midweek match at Birstall on Tuesday night.
More by this authorJames Bedford