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Stamford Lions lose to ICA Sports in their opening match of the new Peterborough League season



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Stamford Lions' opening day jinx struck again as they started their Peterborough League campaign with a 4-0 home reversal against ICA Sports on Saturday.

James Sheehan's side have failed to win any of their first matches of the Premier Division season during their five campaigns in the top flight.

Peterborough Sports Reserves and Netherton have both gained opening wins over the Lions who have also shared the first day spoils with Tydd and Polonia.

Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254135)
Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254135)

Having been hit by a mass player exodus during the close season, Lions' fortunes didn't improve in Saturday's opener at Blackstones' Torney Ltd Stadium.

They suffered a double injury setback in the opening period with both Sean Kelly and Paul Crowley being forced off.

Lions also missed a penalty early in the second half when they trailed by two goals after Nicki Young's spot kick was saved.

Kelly had been injured in the warm-up and, despite playing the opening 10 minutes, he had to be taken off while Crowley soon followed as he suffered a blow to the head and had to sit out the rest of the game.

Lions had started the brighter of the two sides and a great chance fell to debutant Ollie Wood after he burst through the defence but he saw his attempted lob shot well saved by Jamie Stephens in the ICA goal.

Young then saw a low drive palmed away before Chris McRoyal screwed a shot wide in what had been a positive start for the Stamford side despite the early injures.

However, with 10 minutes of the half remaining, ICA broke the deadlock when Stu Lambie curled in a 25-yard free-kick perfectly into the top corner of the home net.

The game had turned and it was now the visitors applying the pressure with Lions goalkeeper John Swales at full stretch as he tipped away a looping header just before the break.

Lions started the second half on the front foot, but the lead was soon doubled when they loosely squandered possession and a piercing pass found forward Scott Spearink who made no mistake as he tucked his shot under Swales.

Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254159)
Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254159)

Lions were given a lifeline 10 minutes later when Haydn Rice was felled in the area and a penalty was awarded to the home side.

Young picked his spot low to the keeper's left but Stephens was equal to it as he clawed the ball away with an excellent save.

Frustration was beginning to build for the Lions and, as they forced the game, the more mistakes occurred.

Spearink tumbled to the ground and a penalty to ICA was awarded and the forward dusted himself down and slammed home the spot kick.

Ash Firth then compounded a miserable day for Lions by firing in a fourth ICA goal a minute before the final whistle.

A frustrated Sheehan said: "We went into the game hoping lady luck could do us a turn, but unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen.

Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254145)
Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254145)

"Losing Sean (Kelly) and Paul (Crowley) so early in the match was the last thing we needed.

"But, other than the injuries, I was happy with the opening half-hour of the match. We started brightly and could have taken the lead with a little better finishing.

"Their opening goal was an outstanding free-kick though and from that moment everything looked like hard work.

"We conceded a sloppy second goal at the start of second half and then the penalty was saved so it was just not happening for us.

"It was a little bit heartbreaking when you consider where we were six months ago in our last game but, saying that, it is no good looking back.

"We need to strengthen the squad, the lads need to get fitter and we will work hard together.

Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254121)
Stamford Lions lost 4-0 to ICA Sports in their opening match. Photo: Alan Walters (42254121)

"In perspective though, as disappointing as it is, we need to remember it's just the first game and we have never won our first Premier Division game of a season.

"ICA also deserve credit though. They are an improved side and should do well.

"As for us, we are going to be fine. We will look to the next game and prepare for the battle ahead."

Lions have bolstered their ranks after signing Josh Backhouse while forward Josh Collins has also returned after missing last season through injury.



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