Joint Blackstones boss Lee Clarke admitted his side were taught a harsh lesson after a 4-1 defeat on Friday night at United Counties League Division One table-toppers Pinchbeck United.
After trailing to Andrew Tidswell’s 19th minute opener, three goals in the final 23 minutes sent Stones tumbling to their first league loss since Clarke and co-boss Daniel French took over the helms at the ALH Recruitment Stadium.
A late penalty from Ben Porter was scant consolation for Stones who dropped down to sixth place following the defeat.
Clarke said: “In all honesty we received a harsh lesson in what it takes to do well in this league.
“We are as good as anybody in this league when we have the ball and when we’re attacking - Pinchbeck included.
“Pinchbeck were, however, far more defensively disciplined, had better concentration levels and made better defensive decisions.
“That is what won them the game and I give them massive credit for that - they’re obviously very well drilled.
“Against the better teams you have to be ‘on it’ for the full 90 minutes otherwise you get punished and this was the case.
“Although 4-1 was a harsh scoreline it does show how the small margins of error make a huge difference.
“We now move on to Bourne on Boxing Day where I know the boys will be wanting to put things right.”
Stones welcomed back Danny Barker from injury to the starting line-up while Stamford youngster Harry Peasgood was named on the bench.
The visitors started well and former Ketton goalkeeper Dan Swan twice kept out Barker and those saves proved crucial as Pinchbeck took control in between.
Tidswell tapped in the opening goal after his flick from Chris Shipley’s long-range effort had been pushed out by Aaron Bellairs.
Tidswell’s free-kick was nodded over by Ollie Maltby just past the hour mark before Josh Smith doubled the lead – beating Bellairs at the second attempt – and the result was not in doubt from then on.
Maltby smashed home via the inside of the post from Liam Ogden’s pass to make it 3-0.
Four minutes later, James Gordon’s left-footed cross from the right wing was met by Smith’s header and the ball rolled beyond Bellairs.
Porter put away Stones’ consolation from the spot kick, but it was too little, too late for Blackstones against the league leaders.
Stones: Bellairs; Easson, Pell, Simpson, Bates; Boome, Butler (sub Peasgood 75 mins); Edmondson (sub Carter 56 mins), Porter, Barker (sub Chambers 83 mins); Clarke.