Hedley hits winner on maiden start for first team
Stamford Lions fought back from two goals down to overcome ICA Sports 3-2 on Saturday and extend their unbeaten Peterborough League run to 14 games without defeat.
James Sheehan’s side had conceded two goals in the opening period of the Premier Division clash against their Peterborough hosts.
But they hit back to stretch their fine run which has produced 11 wins and three draws in a game which was hampered by the strong gusty wind that blew across the pitch.
Both sides seemed to struggle early on in adapting to the blustery conditions as Lions had the first real chance when Tom Edwards beat the offside trap and raced away from the ICA defence but failed to control his shot as it flew over the bar.
ICA then opened the scoring midway through the half as forward Rob Ames charged down a John Hudson clearance and, as the ball deflected, it fell kindly to the frontman who made no mistake in slotting past Lions keeper John Swales.
Lions then suffered a further setback when influential midfielder Neil Speck was forced off from the field with a knee injury to add to their growing injury list.
The reshuffle seemed to disrupt the Stamford side who were now getting pushed back by their hosts and 10 minutes before half-time Ames struck again to make it 2-0.
This time the ICA forward pounced on a defensive mistake and again applied a calm finish that left Swales with no chance.
ICA looked comfortable with the two-goal cushion and seemed to be heading into the break with that advantage until virtually the last kick of the half.
Jake Showler threw himself at a Chris McRoyal cross and bundled the ball home to half the deficit and set up a potential second half fightback.
The start of the second half saw the Lions press forward and the confidence had seemed to be restored.
Showler went down in the area after being caught from behind but the referee waved away strong penalty appeals while Haydn Rice saw an effort well saved before Showler fired just wide.
Jake Walton then burst into the area and went down under a clumsy challenge and this time the referee didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot and awarding a penalty. Edwards stepped up and rifled the spot kick into the bottom corner.
Lions were looking the stronger now and continued to push forward in search of the winning goal.
With less than five minutes remaining teenager Matt Hedley, making his first start for the first team, fired in after some excellent individual skill that saw Rice beat his marker and roll over a low cross for Hedley to finish and make it 3-2.
With only a few minutes remaining ICA rallied and had a late flurry of corners that tested the Lions defence. However, the visitors stood firm and saw out the 3-2 victory.
Manager James Sheehan said: “We were forced to dig in and we fought hard to overcome a 2-0 deficit against a very decent ICA side and I was delighted for the lads.
“Matt (Hedley) was making his first start for the first team and I couldn’t have asked for more from the young lad.
“He started the season with the A team and then has been a big player for our reserves and has now scored the winner in an important first team game. He can be very pleased with his progress this season.
“At times over this season we have played some very attractive football, but we have also won some of these away games by getting stuck in and winning ugly.
“The young lads in our team are learning that side to the game and this win emphasised that.”