Mixed feelings as late leveller earns Lions a point against title rivals

Stamford Lions v Netherton.
Stamford Lions v Netherton.
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Stamford Lions boss James Sheehan admitted he was left with mixed feelings after a late Rob Forster strike earned his side a valuable point against title rivals Netherton United on Saturday.

Forster struck with just three minutes remaining to pocket a point which moved Lions into second spot in the Peterborough League Premier Division standings.

However, the stalemate means they now trail table-topping Moulton Harrox by five points with Netherton - who have two games in hand on the Lions - just a point behind.

Sheehan said: “I’ve got mixed feelings towards the game to be honest. It was a game we desperately wanted to win, but then we are pleased we didn’t lose.

“It was a tough battling game for long periods as both teams showed their willingness to scrap as well as try to play good football.

“On reflection we can move forward with the point and be satisfied with our first half to the season so far.

“It’s now all about how many points can we win in the weeks to come that will determine our title challenge.”

The battle of these two title contenders promised to be full of goals with Lions coming into the game off a 10-0 win and Netherton scoring an impressive 25 goals in their last five games.

However, the opening spell between these two free-flowing teams was very cagey as the game was bogged down in a midfield battle with neither side having a sight of goal for the first 20 minutes of the match.

The Stamford side had the ball in the net midway through the first half when Jake Walton raced to the byline and cut the ball back to see Luke Ball rifle a shot past the keeper. The referee at first gave the goal before the linesman flagged to say Walton had taken the ball out of play before the cut back and the goal was chalked off.

Danny Sheehan then had a long range strike tipped over before Tom Lees saw his effort well saved.

At the other end keeper John Swales was at full stretch to tip an effort wide before a short back pass forced him to charge from his box, hold off a challenge and clear the ball upfield in a situation that could have ended far worse for the home side.

Both teams battled away and chances were few and far between but tackles were aplenty.

As half-time approached it looked like the sides would be going into the break goalless until a free kick was awarded late on and floated high to the far post where powerful forward Karl Gibbs headed past Swales to give the Peterborough side a vital lead.

The second half started far more open as both sides sensed the importance of the games next goal.

Swales bravely saved after a goalmouth scramble as Netherton piled on early pressure but Lions had chances of their own. Rob Montgomery headed just wide and Neil Speck saw an effort well held.

Shaun Sanderson twice rescued the Lions with some excellent defending as first he headed away a dangerous free kick before a last ditch tackle prevented a goalscoring opportunity

As the game entered the final 10 minutes the Lions were getting desperate and looked to attack in numbers. Speck went close with a header and Montgomery saw his header cleared from the line.

With just three minutes of time remaining, Jack Travers skipped past his marker and drove a low cross across the box that seemed to evade everyone, but Forster raced in at the far post and despatched his shot past the keeper to score a late equaliser.

The final few minutes were frantic as both teams looked to snatch a winning goal, but in the end the sides had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Lions are in PFA Senior Cup action this weekend when they travel to Premier Division rivals Whittlesey Athletic.