Stamford Lions are beaten by Long Sutton in Peterborough Senior Cup
Stamford Lions' recent good form in the league did not carry through to their Peterborough Senior Cup campaign as last year's semi-finalists were knocked out in the first round after a 2-1 defeat at a battling Long Sutton side on Saturday.
Lions came into the match missing six players from the previous week's 5-0 victory over Parson Drove and manager James Sheehan felt it was an opportunity missed for his side.
He said: "We have a good squad this season but, with already three missing for different reasons, we had another six lads unable to play against Long Sutton.
"That's obviously nine first team players in total with only one of those due to injury which makes life very difficult.
"We fell at the semi-final stage last season and, with the additions to the squad, I genuinely felt we could go better this time round.
"Anyone that knows anything about football though will tell you that a team must be balanced right and, with so many unavailable, ours was upset.
"You can still field plenty of attacking flare, but you need to win the ball back and defend.
"It was a bitterly disappointing result which ends our cup run early.
"I don't want to take anything away from Long Sutton though. They were desperate to win and were prepared to fight for every ball so good luck to them going forward."
Lions got off to a perfect start when Luke Ball netted his first goal of the season with an excellent finish as he controlled a Jake Walton cross before dispatching his shot into the top corner.
Ball almost doubled the lead five minutes later as again he controlled a sweeping cross but this time his shot was blocked on the line.
Long Sutton started to grow into the game and drew level on the half-hour mark when a darting run burst past the Lions rearguard and a neat low finish was slotted past stand-in goalkeeper John Feetham.
Lions pushed forward looking to regain the advantage and Haydn Rice saw an effort well held and Ball narrowly headed wide at the far post.
At the other end Feetham was alert as he smothered a dangerous through ball while Iain Brockbank bravely blocked a goalbound shot.
The second half saw Lions assert themselves on the front foot.
Glen O'Gorman had a fierce shot that flew past the keeper but was blocked on the line and Kieran Duffy-Weekes saw a 20-yard free kick-well saved.
With just over an hour played a dangerous free kick on the edge of the area was curled in and headed at the far post into the top corner leaving Feetham with no chance and the home side had the lead.
Lions raised the tempo from the restart but found Sutton a hard side to break down as the home side increased the physicality of the match and several thunderous tackles and fouls rained in to break up any rhythm the visitors were trying to set.
Referee Paul Gregory had his hands full keeping a grip on the match as tempers were becoming fraught from both sides.
Dan Aust had a rare opening as he raced around his marker and lifted his shot over the keeper only to see the ball bounce agonisingly wide of the goal.
Lions were gaining lots of free kicks but to the credit of Long Sutton they headed and blocked every ball into their box.
With a minute remaining Aust again burst clear and this time rolled his shot past the keeper.
As it headed into the bottom corner, Lions celebrated until the goal was disallowed from an offside flag to dash the hopes of forcing extra-time .
Lions will have a quick chance to gain revenge over Long Sutton as the two sides meet in a Premier Division clash at the ALH Recruitment Stadium on Saturday.