Ketton are pegged back after taking early lead
Stamford Lions toasted a derby double after beating near neighbours Ketton for the second time this season in Saturday’s Peterborough League Premier Division clash.
The victory stretched the winning streak of James Sheehan’s in-form Lions side to seven league games ahead of Saturday’s trip to table-topping Moulton Harrox.
But it was a far closer contest than the 4-0 away win that Lions recorded at Pit Lane back in August against Ian Abbott’s rapidly-improving Ketton team.
The visitors took an early lead before Lions equalised midway through the first half and then netted what proved to be the winning goal just before the interval.
Lions had chances to kill the game off after the break before Ketton rallied late on to ensure a nervy finale for the eventual victors.
Lions boss Sheehan said: “It was another good win. It was pleasing to come from behind and get a valuable three points against our local rivals.
“We didn’t defend well for the first goal but I do feel Tom Mann was clearly offside. He was behind our goalkeeper John Swales when he tapped the ball in and that's offside.
“But these decisions can go for you or against you. I was pleased we didn’t dwell on it and got back on level terms.
“I’m not trying to be clever but we should have put this game out of reach. We created several good chances and their keeper has pulled off a couple of good saves.
“We squandered too many opportunities and in the end it leaves you with a feeling of hanging on.
“John (Swales) was injured after the opening goal and had to play 87 minutes with a crook shoulder so I thought the lads protected him well.
“I was very pleased with how we defended in the second half. I felt we restricted Ketton to very few chances of a goal.
“Local derbies are often scrappy and that was the case. You need to dig in and scrap it out and I felt we did that well once we went behind. We were all pleased to come away with the win.”
Ketton boss Abbott admitted he was disappointed to lose the derby duel, but felt there were positives in his side’s progress this season.
He commented: “It was a close game. It was a chance for us to gauge how far we have come recently and we narrowly a lost a game where there was very little between the two sides.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we gave them a good match although the lads were very disappointed to lose it.
“The frustrating thing was that we didn’t play as well as we could, but I felt we still played the better football in brief spells.
“Lions play to their strengths very well and are very good going forward. They are a decent side so it shows we can compete with anybody in this division and that we have come a long way.
“We played alright from the start and took the lead. Our game-plan was the same as the week before and not let them have time on the ball and run for everything because winning the second balls is so crucial against a side like Lions.
“We gave Jake Showler an opportunity in the box and, as he’s a very good player, he took it to bring them level and then we didn’t defend a setpiece as well as I wanted for their second goal.
“James Hogg made a couple of quality saves in the second half, but we had a good opportunity to equalise in the last couple of minutes.
“We’ve now got another massive test against Netherton this Saturday. We’ve got a run of games coming up where the lads will have to prove themselves ahead of the cup semi-final against Whittlesey which we will be focusing on with the guys all playing for their places.”
Ketton came flying out of the traps on Saturday and charged down the home side to take the lead with just three minutes played.
A mix-up in the Lions defence allowed the lively Mann in as he nicked the ball on the touchline before cutting a cute pass back beyond Lions keeper Swales. Jacob Smitheringale charged down the pass and stabbed the ball goalbound where Mann finished off as he tapped the ball over the line.
Lions pleaded with the referee, claiming for an offside on Mann, but their appeals were waved away and the goal stood.
Lions were looking to build up their play through midfield, but Ketton hunted down every pass and rushed the Stamford side into uncharacteristic mistakes.
Dan Aust was first into the referee’s book after a wild tackle and Ketton captain Calum Parker soon followed for a thunderous charge on Jake Walton as the game was beginning to heat up.
With 20 minutes played the Lions drew level as prolific goalscorer Showler raced away from the defence before calmly slotting his shot past Ketton keeper Hogg.
Showler almost made it two only minutes later as he lifted a shot over Hogg but Parker was on hand to clear.
As the half wore on the high pressure game Ketton had adopted just started to ease and that allowed a little more time for Stamford to play.
Tom Edwards slashed a shot wide and Sean Kelly headed a corner into the side-netting while at the other end Parker leapt the highest but sent his header over the bar.
As the first half approached its final minute the Lions took the lead as Edwards sent over a deep free kick that Luke Gove headed back across the box where Josh Collins turned and volleyed the ball high into the top corner to send the hosts in at the break leading 2-1.
The second half saw the Lions speed up their play and they should have extended their lead on more than one occasion.
Walton was played in, took a touch and fired in a low shot but was denied by an outstanding save from Hogg while Showler was also left frustrated as he was denied a second by the hands of the Ketton custodian.
Edwards ballooned a shot over from eight yards and Collins rolled a shot wide as the Lions squandered chances.
The failure to kill off the game kept a nervous edge to the play and Ketton rallied for a late charge in search of an equaliser.
Connor Breakell fired a free kick wide and Alex Collyer saw his long range effort well held by Swales.
Mann, who had been a livewire in the first half by causing the Lions defence difficulties, was kept quieter in the second period but he wasn’t prevented from making a jinking run into the box and was only denied a goalscoring opportunity by a last-ditch tackle from Rob Dunn.
As the referee signalled two minutes of injury time, the Lions pretty much played it out around the corner flag to claim a 2-1 win, their seventh straight league success and a derby double over their local rivals.