Skegness United were knocked-out of the Lincolnshire Junior Cup at the quarter-finals stage for the third year in a row after going down 3-1 away to North Somercotes.
Once again United had to make changes from the previous week, with Joe Martin and Matt Hocking making their first appearances, along with Sam Sleight who made his first start of the season.
United made a positive start and after two minutes Ross Muirhead headed just wide of the target.
United were controlling the game without causing home keeper Stuart Hodson any major problems as their final ball kept letting them down.
North Somercotes began to get more into the game, and had a couple of attacks, however they came to nothing. The home side’s first shot on goal came after 15 minutes but was well off target.
United then won a series of corners which were finally cleared when Hodson saved low down to relieve the pressure. The game developed more around the midfield, with the pace of Smith, Rayner-Mistry, O’Loughlin and Crossley a constant threat, particularly on the break.
On 35 minutes United finally took a deserved lead when a ball in from the left by Muirhead was missed by the home defence and Jordan Smith fired home into the corner from around 15 yards.
Then Joe Martin had to come off his line to gather a cross from the left, which he did with aplomb. From a ball by O’Loughlin which split the home defence for Kurt Crossley to run onto Hodson was quickly off his line to smother the shot.
With half time approaching Sam Sleight played a great through ball to Crossley, leaving him clean through with just the keeper to beat and after taking it round Hodson, who forced him wide, his shot hit the side netting.
With seconds on the clock Smith broke free of the home defence on the left and shot wide of the goal when he should have at least tested the keeper. So United went in at half time 1-0 up but if they had converted their chances the game could well have already been settled.
Somercotes started the second half looking to get back on level terms and after two minutes from a corner Willoughby headed just wide of the post. Two minutes later United had a similar chance when Jamie Skinner headed over from a corner.
A couple of minutes later Somercotes drew level from the result of a controversial refereeing decision, however the United players should have dealt with the situation better.
After a shot by the home side had clearly hit the post and gone for a goal kick the referee Mr Carter awarded a corner kick. From the resulting corner the United players switched off after feeling aggrieved by the decision and Nathan Hobson was left unmarked to head home the equaliser.
United were shell shocked but quickly replied when Smith broke free on the right, however he was wide of the target with his shot
On 62 minutes the home side took the lead when a ball in from the left was not cleared properly by the United defence, and it fell to former Louth Town striker Andy Willoughby who finished clinically.
At this point Jordan Smith was replaced by Michael Howard.
Disaster then struck when Rayner-Mistry lost possession in midfield and the ball was picked up by Richard Finnie who broke forward before knocking the ball past Martin to make it 3-1.
United finally began to show some fight in the final 20 minutes having plenty of the ball around the edge of the home area but they could not penetrate the home side’s resolute defence or cause undue problems to Hodson.
Manager Mark Hallam said: “We completely controlled the first half and could have gone in two or three up if we had taken our chances.
“Despite the referee’s mistake for the equaliser we should have defended it better, but there’s no excuse for the way we capitulated. I take nothing away from North Somercotes who are a decent side who worked their socks off and we wish them well in the semi-final.”
Team: Joe Martin, Andy Reeson, Ross Muirhead, Sam Sleight (Mark Hallam), Matt Hocking, Jamie Skinner, Jordan Smith (Michael Howard), Kyle McGuigan, Luke Rayner-Mistry, Ryan O’Loughlin and Kurt Crossley
On Saturday (January 18) United are back in league action with an away match at Nettleham. Kick-off is at 2pm.