Stamford Lions saw their Peterborough League Premier Division title hopes suffer a huge setback after a 1-0 home loss to Thorney on Saturday.
Manager James Sheehan lamented a below-par performance from a depleted Lions side who are now two points behind league leaders Netherton who have two games in hand.
Sheehan said: “I’m bitterly disappointed with the result and in truth the performance.
“I had seven less players to pick from for this game than I could three weeks ago. Injures and unavailability has hit us these last two weeks and that has cut our options.
“But that’s not taking anything away from Thorney. They set a good game plan and credit to them for carrying it out.
“We just couldn’t open up their defence or break them down. It was a below-par first half performance that has ultimately cost us again.”
The first half started scrappily and continued in the same fashion. Dan Aust was added to the injury list that included top scorer Luke Ball and influential midfielder Neil Speck after just 15 minutes when he limped off with a pulled hamstring.
The reshuffle didn’t improve things for the Lions and the football just didn’t flow. Sam Rayner headed wide for Thorney while Tom Edwards ballooned a rare sight of goal over the bar for the home side.
The half looked to be heading to an interval stalemate as neither side mustered a lot of attacking threat.
But in injury time of the first period a shot from Thorney was parried away by keeper John Swales and the follow up was struck in as the Lions defence were caught on their heels.
A goal down, the Stamford side looked to set their authority at the start of the second half, but Thorney were in a resilient mood.
Jack Travers headed over and Edwards saw his goalbound header pushed onto the bar by an excellent save.
Jake Walton proved the Lions’ best attacking option as he continued to race down the right and send over swirling crosses, but time and again Thorney’s back line dealt with any aerial threat and headed countless balls away.
Thorney posed a real threat on the counter attack and Danny Sheehan was forced into a last ditch tackle to prevent a goalscoring opportunity.
Swales was also at his best as he tipped away a deflected strike heading into the bottom corner.
As the clock ticked down, Lions applied the pressure but could not find away through. Michael Webb lifted a free kick just over and Sheehan saw a strike well held.
In the end Thorney defended resiliently and left Stamford frustrated and all but ended any realistic hopes of a title charge.