United maintain top spot

Skegness United 4 Hykeham Town 2

Sills & Betteridge Lincs League

Despite a glorious afternoon down at Wainfleet Road, the United committee had worked tirelessly in the morning to get the game on, despite several postponements in the league. A very good crowd gathered at Wainfleet Road to see if United could maintain their unbeaten league run for this season.

From the start, Hykeham were showing that they were tricky opposition and were setting their stall out to show United that they meant business.

The first five minutes was a cagey affair with both sides playing it very cautiously. United’s first meaningful attack came after seven minutes when Luke Rayner-Mistry played a lovely ball through to Aaron Scutt who just shot over the Hykeham crossbar.

Following on from the United pressure, two successive corners for United caused problems with first Adam Cowdell’s shot being parried away by the Hykeham goalkeeper.

Then a short corner between O’Loughlin and Rayner-Mistry cut open the Hykeham defence with a beautiful one-two before O’Loughlin shot straight at the Hykeham ‘keeper when he should have made him work.

United took the lead midway through the first half when a delightful move involving O’Loughlin, Rayner-Mistry and Smith was pulled back to the edge of the box for the latter to plant a great strike into the left corner of the goal for his first goal for the club. United had their tails up and moments later O’Loughlin stood over a free-kick 30 yards from goal.

He struck it sweetly over the wall leaving the away keeper rooted to the spot but the ball smashed against the base of the goalpost and was cleared to safety.

United then gifted Hykeham a route back into the game by defending too deeply and when a long hopeful ball was not cleared Newman hit an initial shot that was brilliantly saved by Martin, but the rebound fell kindly for him to stroke home the rebound.

Disaster struck on 37 minutes when Hykeham were awarded a very contentious penalty when Josh Bartlett was adjudged to have brought down Newman in the area which seemed a very harsh decision. Mike Ellis converted giving Hykeham a rather fortunate 2-1 lead going into half-time.

The United players have not been used to having to come from behind so this was going to be a real test of their character against a very well organised Hykeham side.

A largely scrappy start to the second half followed and a poor tackle from the Hykeham right back on Aaron Scutt resulted in a yellow card to emphasise this.

Needing new impetus United made their first tactical change on 55 minutes sacrificing defensive midfielder Winters for striker Michael Howard as they tried to find a way back into the game. His impact was immediate as he latched onto a long ball out of defence by Josh Bartlett; before cleverly lifting the ball over the advancing keeper into the net to bring the scores level and send the crowd into raptures.

Howard continued to be a nuisance to the Hykeham defence as he latched on to a poor back-pass but his shot at goal was straight at the ‘keeper.

On 70 minutes United restored their lead when O’Loughlin curled a beautiful free kick towards the back post where it was met by a bullet header from defender Jamie Skinner to make it 3-2 to United.

Seven minutes later, United sealed the victory when O’Loughlin received the ball just outside the six yard box under pressure but nonchalantly fired the ball into the near top corner giving the keeper no chance and making it 19 league games in a row he has now scored. United introduced Clarke and Cunliffe late in the game which continued to be scrappy until the official blew the final whistle, maintaining United’s unbeaten run in the league and staying 6 points clear at the top with games in hand.

After the match manager Mark Hallam said:

“The surface has not helped us at all today as it wasn’t conducive to the style of football we like to play but having said that the players showed great character coming from behind and Mike Howards impact undoubtedly changed the direction of the game.

Man of the Match - Adam Cowdell

United’s next league fixture is this coming Saturday away at Horncastle Town in the Lincolnshire League.

Squad - Martin, Foreman (Cunliffe), Cowdell, Skinner, Bartlett, Scutt, Winters (Howard), Rayner-Mistry (Clarke), Sleight, O’Loughlin, Smith. Subs not used: Walker, Dobson.

On Saturday March 9 Skegness United FC will be hosting their annual ‘Race Night’ at Churchills Sports and Winebar.

Tickets cost just £6 and include a Pie and Pea supper. Please visit our website (www.skegnessunitedfc.co.uk) or facebook page for details or come down to a home match and speak to a committee member.