Clarke praises the character of his players after cup defeat

Jones de Sousa scored twice for Blackstones in their defeat at Leicester Nirvana.
Jones de Sousa scored twice for Blackstones in their defeat at Leicester Nirvana.
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Joint Blackstones boss Lee Clarke praised the character of his side despite their League KO Cup run coming to an end on Tuesday night.

Stones suffered a 5-2 away reversal at Premier Division high-flyers Leicester Nirvana in their quarter-final clash.

They conceded four first half goals against a rampant home side before Jones de Sousa reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time.

Although Nirvana added a fifth goal nine minutes into the second period, de Sousa struck again for Stones who gave their all until the final whistle.

Clarke said: “We knew it was going to be a tough game against a side who are going very well in the league above us.

“They were quick out of the traps, played with a lot of tempo and movement and passed the ball very well.

“When you fall 3-0 behind after 20 minutes you do wonder what’s going to happen, but fair play to the lads. They showed a lot of character.

“We gave the ball away too cheaply in the first half when we won it, but we took that extra touch in the second half and grew in confidence.

“We have all been in those games where you are three or four goals down, away from home, on a horrible cold, freezing night.

“It’s easy to down tools, but we had the right attitude. We were fully committed for the whole 90 minutes and had a couple more chances that could have made the result a bit closer so the lads deserve credit.”

Stones return to Division One action on Saturday with a trip to face a rapidly-improving Bugbrooke side.

The Badgers recently beat third-placed Raunds and also held high-flying Buckingham, but they did to lose to lower level opposition in the Northants Junior Cup last Saturday.

Clarke commented: “They have picked up lately, but seem to have a good win and then a not-so-great result the week after.

“We can’t rely on the opposition though. We have to make sure we’re at it and produce a performance like we did in the first half on Saturday.”

Clarke is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing the midweek defeat along with Jack Bates and goalkeeper Aaron Bellairs.

Bellairs was unavailable for the midweek cup clash so Stones brought in Polish goalkeeper Bartlomiejj Danowski from St Neots Reserves.

Stones: Danowski, Easson, Wilmer, Pell, Simpson, Boome, Porter, Butler (French), de Sousa, Edmondson, Carter (Hands). Sub not used: Clarke.