Uppingham Town defeat Stamford Lions in Peterborough League Premier Division clash
Unbeaten Uppingham Town maintained their flying start to the new Peterborough League Premier Division campaign after inflicting the first defeat of the season on Stamford Lions in Wednesday night's derby duel.
Newly-promoted Town took advantage of a lack-lustre Lions display in the opening period to lay down the foundations for their third successive league victory.
Although the Stamford side staged a rousing finale to the clash at Blackstones' ALH Recruitment Stadium, it was too little too late as Town toasted a second consecutive derby victory following last week's four-goal defeat of near neighbours Oakham United.
Uppingham were quick out of the blocks and thought they had opened the scoring in the opening exchanges when Callum O'Berg headed home, however, his effort was ruled out by referee Shaun Gray for offside.
But the Rutland side didn't have to wait much longer to break the deadlock after taking an 11th minute lead.
Goalkeeper Tom Hubbard's long clearance was flicked on by Martin Turiccki to set Rob Forster free against his former club.
And the Town marksman got the better of Lions goalkeeper Jon Swales who came rushing out to close down the angle to score his fifth goal of the season.
Uppingham then thought they had doubled their lead when Turiccki's powerful header rattled the upright with O'Berg pouncing to convert from close range.
But referee Gray again came to Lions' rescue by ruling out the effort for offside which prompted the home side to try and make the most of their let-off.
Jake Showler was denied by a superb save from Town goalkeeper Hubbard after darting in the box before Harry Bains produced a crucial clearance after Jake Walton's weaving run had created an opening.
Joe Searson then sent a shot narrowly over for Lions before Swales saved smartly to keep out another effort from Forster.
Town again began the second half brightly and took just two minutes to take further control of the contest.
A corner whipped in to the back post was met superbly by Billy Henshaw whose rasping first-time strike flew into the Lions net.
This sparked a strong Stamford response as Lions finally started to find their feet with Showler a strong threat to the Uppingham goal.
He laid the foundations for Lions halving the deficit midway through the second half as his pacy blitz teed up substitute Haydn Rice to slot home.
Kieron Duffy-Weekes then had a great chance to equalise but just failed to turn home a Walton cross at full stretch with the goal at his mercy.
Bains made another vital block to thwart an effort from the dangerous Walton while Sean Kelly sent a couple a late headers wide from corners as Lions threw everything at trying to find a leveller.
However, a Town side - which conceded just 15 goals in 26 games last season on their way to promotion - held firm with Hubbard producing another super save in the dying throes after Showler had burst clear.
Town will now be aiming to continue their unbeaten start when they host Peterborough Sports North End on Saturday while Lions will be looking to return to winning ways as they entertain Netherton United.
And Lions boss James Sheehan is hoping for an improved display from his charges after a sluggish start to the derby defeat.
He said: “We just didn’t get going and it’s hard to say why that happened.
“You have to give Uppingham credit. They were buzzing and played to their strengths, but we didn’t look prepared for a local derby.
“They have come into the Premier Division after a great season last year and are a hard team to beat, but it took us an hour to get going.
“We did have a real go at them in the last 20 minutes, but they have got an outstanding keeper who made some good saves.
“It was very frustrating. If you don’t play well then you can’t complain about not winning a game.”
More by this authorJames Bedford