Lodge looking for cup giantkiling to kick-start Blackstones’ season
Blackstones boss Andy Lodge wants his side to use their League Cup giantkilling to kick-start their Division One campaign.
Stones dumped Premier Division side Peterborough Northern Star out of the competition on Wednesday night with a 2-1 success at the ALH Recruitment Stadium to earn a quarter-final trip to either Rothwell Corinthians or Leicester Nirvana.
Lodge’s side had gone into the cup contest having picked up just one point from their last three league games.
Successive away defeats at Raunds and Buckingham had also seen Stones drop to sixth place in the Division One standings.
But, after an impressive performance on Wednesday night, Lodge is hoping his side use the victory as a springboard to league success.
He said: “I was really pleased with our performance on Wednesday night. They play at a higher level and you always appreciate it’s going to be a tough game, but I thought we were the better side and deserved the win.
“We were at the races and it was a good performance. We defended well, the midfield worked hard, we had a lot of energy out wide and Lee Clarke was the difference up top.
“We’ve had a couple of tough away games in the league which I thought were winable so we have dropped points, but hopefully the win will kick-start us again.
“It will give us a confidence boost. The tempo is back. We are buzzing again and need to take that momentum into Saturday.”
Stones had a number of players missing for the second round clash with Danny Barker, Jack Bates, Jones de Sousa, Andy Boome, Liam Harrold, Gareth Jelleyman, Lewis Stone and Adam Piergianni all absent.
However, in a lively and keenly-contested clash, they more than matched their Premier Division visitors and deservedly took a 17th minute lead.
Joe Papworth’s surge into the penalty area saw him bundled over by Matt Cox and Ben Porter stepped up to convert the resultant spot kick.
Papworth came close to adding another shortly after, only for superb defensive cover from Cox to block his goalbound effort after a slide-rule pass from Scott Musgrove had created the opening.
The visitors got back on level terms after 33 minutes when Craig Rook’s fiercely-struck free-kick squirmed through Blackstones’ defensive wall and evaded the clutches of the diving Aaron Bellairs.
Connor Pilbeam then put a free header over from a corner before Bellairs did well to deny James Hill-Seekings who had a free run on goal.
Stones started the second half brightly and needed just three minutes to regain the lead.
Porter’s quick-thinking from a free-kick released Clarke who took full advantage by slotting home past the advancing Simon Dalton in the PNS goal.
The visitors hit back in search of a second equaliser and Bellairs acrobatically kept out a long range effort from Jake Sansby while also excelling to tip away a cross-cum-shot from Dan Wilson.
Clarke sent a fierce header wide and then substitute Josh Edmondson just failed to connect with a Porter cross as Stones sought a third goal.
A late flurry of pressure from the visitors was then repelled as Stones held firm to book their place in the last eight of the competition.
Stones: Bellairs, Easson, Wilmer, Pell, Simpson, Musgrove, Porter, Papworth, Scott, Clarke, Carter (Edmondson). Not used: French, Hands.
PNS: Dalton, Kilby, D Wilson, Rook (Gordon), Makate, Cook, Barsby, Sansby, Hill-Seekings (Dobson), Munton, Pilbeam (Jones). Not used: Ingram, S Wilson.
Stones expect to welcome back Harrold, Stone, Boome and Jelleyman for Saturday’s home clash with Potton at the ALH Recruitment Stadium.
Potton lost for the first time in the league on Tuesday after going down to a 3-0 home reversal against Raunds but, with games in hand on many sides above them, have the potential to mount a charge for the top.
Lodge added: “I told the lads before the game on Wednesday night that if they play well then they will stay in.
“If we play well then we can beat any side in this division but, if we’re not at it, then we won’t get results.
“We are in a decent position to push on. If we can string three wins together, which we’re capable of doing, then we will be in the top two or three.”