United look to cup as season ends in narrow defeat

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Lincolnshire League

Gainsborough Town 2 Skegness United 1

United went into their final league game of the season missing ten players from the first team squad due to injury and unavailability due to bank holiday work commitments.

Into the side came Jason Smith at centre back, Callum Hyland in midfield, and 16-year-old Charley McLening at full back, starting his first game in the first team.

United had the first shot of the game on three minutes when the ball was laid off by Luke Rayner-Mistry into the path of Ryan O’Loughlin whose shot was straight at Liam Andrews in the home goal.

Then five later a long kick by Chris Snaith was headed on by Callum Hyland to set Tom Pickett free of the defence, however before he could get a shot in he was tackled and the ball cleared.

After a period of Gainsborough pressure United came back into the game and were causing problems to the home side and winning a number of free kicks without finding the final ball to open up their defence.

However it was the home side who took the lead on 15 minutes when a clear push on Danny Stevens was not picked up by the referee or his assistant and Ryan Hollingworth was allowed a free run on goal to beat Snaith.

After the set back of a goal United were still looking the better side in possession and were restricting the home side to isolated raids.

Following a United corner the ball was played back into the visitors six-yard area by Andy Reeson and Pickett’s shot went across the face of the goal when only a couple of yards from the goal line.

The home side following a corner on 30 minutes were just wide of the target with a header.

Following a United free kick, Gainsborough cleared the ball and broke quickly and Snaith had to save with his feet from James Dickinson.

United thought they had drawn level when Reeson broke free on the right and drove his shot wide of Andrews, however the assistant controversially flagged for off-side to United’s dismay.

With half time approaching, a long ball over the top found Kraig Wharton in a seemingly offside position but he drove his shot across Snaith into the far corner to double their lead.

United went in at half time disappointed at being two goals down having had more of the play, and especially with the first goal.

The visitors started the better of the two sides at the start of the second half quickly looking to reduce the home side lead and Pickett beat his marker on the right hand side, however his shot was over the bar.

Then United had their best chance of the match when Rayner-Mistry played in O’Loughlin who side stepped his marker but placed his shot over the bar from five yards when he should have scored.

Then Jason Smith had a header on target which lacked power to cause any problems to Andrews.

The game developed more in midfield with neither keeper being overstretched.

However, Gainsborough did have one clear cut chance when one of their forwards found himself in the clear, however Snaith once again was quickly off his line to save with his legs.

United pulled a goal back on 75 minutes when Ryan O’Loughlin hit an unstoppable half volley from 25 yards out that flew into the top corner of the net before the home goalkeeper had a chance to move.

From this point, United pressed forward to find the goal to level and Rayner-Mistry fired home what would have been a deserved equalizer the assistant flagged for offside when he was clearly played on by the full back.

Manager Mark Hallam said: “I am so proud of that group of players who worked so hard against a Gainsborough side who came into the game unbeaten in their last eight.

“The commitment they all showed has certainly given me a headache for our cup final in three weeks time.”

Team: Chris Snaith, Charley McLening, Mark Hallam, Sam Sleight, Danny Stevens, Jason Smith, Tom Pickett, Callum Hyland, Luke Rayner-Mistry, Ryan O’Loughlin and Andy Reeson.

Man of Match - Jason Smith.

United’s next match on Saturday, May 10, is at Lincoln United against Cleethorpes Town Reserves in the final of the Challenge Cup.