United happy to pocket a point without influential trio while Lions look for improvement
Derby honours ended even as Stamford Lions and Oakham United shared the spoils in Saturday’s Peterborough League Premier Division clash.
Danny Sheehan had given Lions a first half lead before Luke Matts struck an equaliser for Oakham who were the happier of the two teams after returning home with a point.
The Rutlanders were missing top scorer Michael Nelson as well as Cameron Brookes, Dan Jenkins and Ash Hibbitt and joint manager Stewart Lambie was full of praise for his side’s efforts.
Lambie had been hit by two further late withdrawals less than 24 hours before the match which forced him to raid their club’s reserves who had to cancel their Division One game with Wittering.
He explained: “It was a very good result, but I was more pleased with the work-rate of everybody and we had the better chances to win it in the second half.
"Sometimes when you go to a club who are higher up the division and you've got arguably your best three players missing, heads can start to drop but everybody worked really hard.
“We had to call four teenagers up from the reserves and Aaron Mitchell and Josh Robertson both came on at 1-1 so there was a bit of pressure of them, but they did really well."
Lions manager James Sheehan admitted his side were below-par as they looked to return to winning ways after last weekend’s Peterborough Senior Cup semi-final defeat Moulton Harrox.
Sheehan said: “We were not at our best. Our football was far more forced than flowing.
“We had the lead and probably should have seen the game out but we grew desperate for a second goal and left the door open at the back.
“Oakham were deserving of their point so no complaints from me there. It’s the kind of game you take the point and move on from, putting it down as one of those games knowing we can play better.”
Both sides struggled to find any rhythm early on as the game was littered with misplaced passes and overhit crosses.
Oakham were lively, looking to press high up the pitch, while Lions seemed content to sit deep and look to spring counter attacks.
John Swales was the first keeper in action as he dived to his right to keep Oakham out after an effort on goal.
Tom Edwards then bought out the best in Oakham goalkeeper Usaama Yussuf with a 25-yard shot that was dipping in but for a strong hand to push the ball to safety.
The Stamford side started to dictate the play and Oakham were forced to defend several crosses as Lions began to pile on the pressure.
The home side took the lead on the half-hour mark as Lions captain Danny Sheehan charged onto a corner and powered his header home.
Lions finished the half on the front foot but found their visitors in resilient mood as they failed to create any clear chances.
The second half saw Oakham start on the front foot and only an outstanding reflex save from Swales prevented an equaliser early into the restart.
The game became more stretched as both sides went on the hunt for the next goal, Lions wanted to double their lead while Oakham were desperate for that equaliser.
Josh Collins fired a chance into the arms of the keeper before Jake Walton sent a left foot shot wide of the post.
Lions’ attacking threat suffered a blow as Edwards limped from the field after a recurrence of the hamstring strain he suffered six weeks ago before Oakham defender Joe Delucis was also forced to depart the action with an injury.
Tom Lees failed to hit the target when he raced away from the Oakham defence while at the other end Joe Lippett was forced into a last-ditch block to prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity.
With less than 10 minutes to play, the game’s second goal did come and it was Oakham who snatched it to level the score.
Excellent passing play opened up the Lions defence and, as a low cross was fired in, Matts arrived at the far post to convert from close range.
The Lions had a late surge on the Oakham goal but could not find a winning goal and both sides ended up settling for a 1-1 draw.