Sills & Betteridge Lincolnshire Football League
Skegness United 2 Skegness Town 2
Having secured the title against Gainsborough the previous Saturday the Champions welcomed mid-table rivals Town to Wainfleet Road on Thursday night for this hotly anticipated local derby.
Local pride was at stake as the league trophy was already headed for Wainfleet Road with three games to spare. But what a pulsating derby full of controversy it turned out to be.
In front of just under 200 supporters the champions made an electric start pressing the their rivals all over the field forcing several early mistakes. After only 4 minutes a disguised free kick from O’loughlin caught Town napping and Michael Twigge headed home brilliantly at the back post.
United continued with a high tempo creating numerous half chances not allowing town to settle at all. Instead looking for the long high ball to former United player Davison to try and get them some respite.
An ugly challenge by Davison on Muirhead should have earned him a yellow card but the referee allowed the play to continue. Some great work down the right by O’loughlin finished with him cutting the ball inside and supplying McGuigan who’s snapshot skimmed the outside of the post with Emery rooted to the spot. Rayner-Mistry and Crossley were not allowing the Town defenders anytime on the ball and when the former picked Akers’ pocket on the left, he cut inside and crossed for O’loughlin whose stunning drive was saved brilliantly by Emery. At the other end Davison was winning a lot of first balls as Town continually cleared their lines but he lacked any real support so no clear cut chance ever came.
Then United should have extended their lead on 32 minutes when a delightful ball by Crossley put Rayner-Mistry through on goal but with just the keeper to beat his shot was too close to Emery allowing him to make another outstanding save to keep Town in the match.
The second goal arrived however only a few minutes later when Crossley picked the ball up out on the left and after turning Drysdale inside out he crossed perfectly to the back post for the onrushing Adam Broom to head home his first goal of the season.
United were rampant and were playing some excellent football but Towns direct style paid dividends for them just before half time. A long ball out of defence by Gowshall was misjudged by Muirhead and Greg Browns shot took a massive deflection off a defender to loop over Martin giving Town a lifeline. United seemed a little shaken and the game slowed up until the half time whistle.
Town kicked off the second half with a strong wind behind them and they looked straight away to try and use that to their advantage. The away side were trying to take advantage of the height advantage they possess by pumping balls into the area from all avenues, whether it be goal kicks, free-kicks, corner kicks and long throw ins and they were causing the champions all sorts of problems.
United still looked dangerous on the counter attack but the strong wind was having a big impact on the game. From a Town corner, Davison rose the highest but his header was cleared only as far as Papworth who’s shot crashed against the post and bounced to safety.
Minutes later another corner was whipped in by Parker and two Town attackers unceremoniously put Martin in the United goal in the back of his own net leading to the referee giving a foul.
Then came the turning point in the match when after being penalised for a foul in the corner, the United skipper Kurt Crossley appeared to kick the ball away and having been booked earlier in the match the referee showed him a second yellow card, then sent him off. Minutes later Davison caught Walden lat which yielded a yellow card.
With the numerical advantage Town sensed blood and continued to pump the ball into the area at every opportunity. T
The introduction of Liam Parker added more height and potency to the Town set plays but United continued to hold firm despite a barrage of balls in and some close shaves in their own penalty area.
Jordan Smith who had just been introduced then made a needless foul on the left inviting another set play delivery and this time they got the break.
As the ball was swung in by Papworth, Walden won a brave header and after the ball pin balled around the area and fell to veteran defender Joby Gowshall who smashed it in through the crowd to the jubilation of the Town players.
With less then 10 minutes on the clock, the Champions were having to hold on as the onslaught of high balls into the box continued. The final golden chance fell to Papworth 12 yards from goal with only minutes remaining but Martin made an outstanding save to keep the scores level.
The game finished all square which was probably the right result after an enthralling encounter.
After the game Mark Hallam said:
“We played some fantastic football in the first half and should have been three or four up after the chances we created. Until the deflected goal they never looked like scoring. After losing our skipper for a second yellow card we had to dig in and show character against our rivals and I thought we defended brilliantly against the onslaught of high balls into our area. I think a draw was a fair result in the end after a tail of two halves but we are a little disappointed because the game should have been over by half time.”