Stamford Lions draw with Holbeach United Reserves in the Peterborough League Premier Division
Stamford Lions earned a valuable point in a hard-fought 2-2 draw away at Holbeach United Reserves on Saturday.
The draw against their third-placed hosts saw Lions move off the foot of the Peterborough League Premier Division table.
Lions made a dream start when after just three minutes goalkeeper John Feetham launched a kick over the Holbeach defence for Dom Butkus to chase down before holding off his marker and calmly slotting into the bottom corner.
The home side soon raised their game after falling behind and pinned the Lions back with a spell of good slick passing.
With 20 minutes played, the scores were level when strong build-up play down Holbeach left side ended with frontman Tom Coote firing in a low shot. Feetham palmed away the effort but Jordan Keeble was quickest to the loose ball and fired home an equalising goal.
Lions responded well and within two minutes retook the lead.
Matt Hedley played a through ball to Tom Fearns who rifled a fierce shot that was well saved but Butkus latched onto the rebounded ball and slotted home his second of the match to restore Stamford's advantage.
Lions were forced back as they looked to defend their lead as Holbeach enjoyed long spells of possession but were struggling to penetrate a well-organised Lions rearguard.
The game heated up and, when Hedley clattered into Keeble, the home side were convinced a penalty should have been rewarded but the appeals were waved away from the referee.
At the other end, Butkus rolled his marker and bared down on goal before being brought down from behind. Lions demanded a red card but the defender was spared as the referee calmly produced a booking.
The second half continued in battling fashion. Lions skipper Danny Sheehan was soon added to the referee's caution list for a crude tackle in the middle of the park.
Lions were defending deep but looking dangerous on the counter and Dan Aust was played in by Fearns but fired his effort into the side netting before Feetham pulled off an excellent fingertip save to preserve the lead.
Holbeach increased the pressure as the game came to the later stages.
With 10 minutes remaining the scores were levelled up. Sheehan headed away a deep cross that fell to defender Josh Ling who unleashed an unstoppable volley that flew into the top corner.
The final few minutes were played out in end-to-end fashion as Holbeach constantly looked to build up good attacking play while Lions were content to soak up the pressure and spring quick counter-attacks.
Zac Treweek went close to a winner with a curling shot that was tipped over the bar before the last minute of the game saw Feetham bravely hurled himself into a crowd of players to pluck out a dangerous cross as the final whistle followed and both sides had to settle for a 2-2 draw.
Lions manager James Sheehan commented: "We needed a result and we have come away from the match with a point after a hard battling display.
It was an enjoyable game. Credit to the referee for letting the game flow and in my opinion the game could have gone either way.
"I'm pleased for Dom (Butkus), his first goals for the club, and I think there will be plenty more to come.
"At one end of the pitch, Dom is 18 and is improving every game while at the other John (Feetham) is 40 but I have to say he is still an excellent keeper. He has come in to help me out and he's been brilliant to have on the pitch and in the dressing room.
"We were all satisfied with a good point away from home, as we continue to look to improve."