United continue title charge

Sills and Betteridge Lincolnshire League

Horncastle Town 1 Skegness United 4

United were again without their influential skipper Kurt Crossley, Kyle McGuigan and Phil Winters from their starting line up. Jordan Walden returned to the side and Michael Howard started up front.

The match started with both sides having chances to open the scoring in the first five minutes. On three minutes Melia had a header on goal for Horncastle which brought a smart save from Ben Martin and then Michael Howard broke down the right and played a ball across the area, however Luke Rayner–Mistry’s touch let him down and the home keeper gathered. United opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Rayner-Mistry cut in from the left and was brought down in the area, however the referee allowed play to continue and the ball ran loose to Ryan O’Loughlin who made no mistake from 10 yards.

Horncastle’s first clear cut chance came shortly afterwards when Tony Edwards seemed to be at least three yards offside when presented with a clear run on goal but he hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Shortly afterwards the home side deservedly drew level when the referee awarded them a generous free kick in a dangerous position. Rawdon’s teasing ball in found Gareth Melia who rose above the United defence to head home.

Within 5 minutes United had re-taken the lead when Rayner-Mistry was brought down when on one of his mazy runs. From the resulting free-kick O’Loughlin exquisitely delivered the ball into the area where Michael Howard powerfully headed home.

Within three minutes, United had scored number three, when a poor header by the home defence was pounced upon by the prolific Ryan O’Loughlin who duly slotted the ball between Willerton’s legs as he came off his line.

Just three minutes later United were awarded a free kick just outside the penalty area after an altercation between Howard and a Horncastle defender.

Ryan O’Loughlin stood over the ball before unleashing an unstoppable curling effort that crashed against the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net to complete his hat-trick while Willerton could only watch in despair.

It was a truly magnificent strike yet again from the 19 year old - his 24th league goal of the season and it was the 20th league game in a row he has now scored in. United went in at the break with a three goal advantage, which was somewhat harsh on the home side.

Horncastle started the second half in determined mood looking to reduce the arrears as quickly as possible. Within a couple of minutes, a slip by Forman let in Harness down the right, and his cross was missed by everybody.

Then the home side went back on the attack and Edwards was just wide of the target. From a Horncastle corner the ball was not fully cleared and Brown fired wide of the goal. With 30 minutes to go, United replaced Forman and Scutt with Stainton and Clarke.

Althought Horncastle were having more of the play, they were finding it difficult to penetrate the central pairing of Jamie Skinner and Jordan Walden, and Martin was mainly dealing with crosses into the box.

Horncastle realised they were not getting back into game as United looked to close the game out. The only real incident in the last 10 minutes was Michael Howard being sent off for a second bookable offence.

Horncastle will feel the score line does not really reflect their contribution to a good game but United’s quality in the final third as well as their strength at the back earned them another massive 3 points.

Manager Mark Hallam said:

“Without key players we were not at our best last week against Hykeham and again today against a strong Horncastle side. However, the boys have shown what they are about by still winning both games convincingly. We were not 4-1 better than Horncastle today by any means, but our quality and in particular that of young Ryan was the difference today.

His contribution was enormous and he’s having a sensational season.”

Team - Martin, Bartlett, Foreman (Stainton), Walden, Skinner, Sleight, Scutt (Clarke), Smith, Howard, O’Loughlin, Rayner – Mistry (Walker).

Man of the Match - Ryan O’Loughlin

Next Saturday United have a local derby with Skegness Town at Wainfleet Road in Round two of the Supplementary Cup. Kick off is at 2.30pm.