HORNCASTLE TOWN 3 v 1 SKEGNESS UNITED
The United travelled to Horncastle last midweek without their skippers Kurt Crossley and Jordan Walden while Jamie Skinner, Ross Muirhead, Nathan Wetton and goalkeeper Ben Smith were also unavailable.
Horncastle came flying out of the blocks and deservedly took the lead on 10 minutes when Daniel Bent fired past Jason Smith.
On 18 minutes the home side increased their lead when a cross from the left was collected by Stephen Brown whose effort squirmed through Jason Smith in the United goal.
On 28 minutes Horncastle gave the champions a mountain to climb when Gareth Melia headed home unchallenged from a corner for a 3-0 lead.
At the start of the second half Michael Howard replaced Jason Smith in goal due to a nasty injury and Ryan O’Loughlin came on as his replacement. Adam Broom then replaced Jason Callaby on 53 minutes and he gave United some impetus as they looked to salvage something from the game.
Despite improving in the second half and scoring a late penalty through Michael Howard, United looked out of sorts and the home side were good value for their victory.
TEAM: J Smith (O’Loughlin). Callaby (Broom), Barlett (Forman), Appleby, Howard, Cowdell, Scutt, Raynor, Rayner-Mistry, Smith, Reeson.
Man of Match: Jamie Raynor.
LINCOLN UNITED RES 2 SKEGNESS UNITED 0
United were without key players such as Kurt Crossley, Jordan Walden, Andy Appleby, Jamie Coulson, Adam Broom and Nathan Wetton.
On 30 minutes, in a game of few chances, Lincoln took the lead. From a long throw in Gareth Symonds rose unchallenged and headed home into the far corner.
The goal finally jolted the away side into action and on 40 minutes interplay between Ross Muirhead, and O’Loughlin resulted in a cross from Muirhead which Luke Rayner-Mistry’s volleyed shot was brilliantly saved by Burrows.
From the resulting corner the ball was cleared to Jamie Skinner whose stinging shot was again tipped over the bar for another corner. From the second corner Josh Bartlett headed over the bar.
Skegness started the second half how they had finished the first, and won a corner in the early minutes, and after the home defence failed to clear Skinner was just wide with his shot.
Then from a free kick for the visitors O’Loughlin played the ball into Rayner-Mistry, whose shot was wide of the target.
The next clear cut chance came on 60 minutes when Burrows made a point black save from Howard who should have scored.
Skegness were in complete control but were struggling to make the breakthrough.
On 72 minutes Reeson released Howard who shot over the bar when again he should have brought the sides level.
With Skegness committing more players forward in search of the equalizer they were hit with a sucker punch when Skinner was adjudged to have brought down Ward in the area, and Will Drury beat Ben Smith from the spot.
Team: B Smith, Bartlett (Hallam), Muirhead, Cowdell, Howard, Skinner, Scutt, Reeson, Rayner-Mistry, O’Loughlin, Smith. Unused Sub: Jason Callaby. Man of Match: Arron Scutt
Manager Mark Hallam said: “We are not going to make excuses about the quality players we have had missing as we were excellent against Hykeham on opening day without them.
“Against Horncastle we simply were not good enough in the first half and you can’t hand any team a 3-0 lead the way we did, especially against a good Horncastle side.
“Against Lincoln Utd we created enough chances to win 3 games but we are just missing a bit of fortune in front of goal at the moment that can be the difference between winning and losing.”
Next Saturday United entertain last year’s runners up at Wainfleet Road at 3pm and Hallam is looking forward to the game.
He said: “The game can’t come quick enough because we need to get back out there and put things right as soon as possible and games don’t come much tougher than Gainsborough.
“We finally should have a full squad to choose from barring our Talisman Kurt Crossley who has a further 1 game suspension to serve and I know with the great character in this squad it won’t be long until the United fans see us back to our best.”