Mason Bros Lincolnshire FA Junior Cup
Epworth Town 2
Skegness Town 2
(Epworth won 4-3 on penalties)
The Lilywhites will be kicking themselves for not booking a trip to holders Hykeham Town for the semi-finals of the county cup.
This is a game they should have won, but they paid the penalty for a catalogue of missed chances and handed Epworth their ticket into the next round on a plate.
The crucial passage of play came just before half time.
Skegness Town front man Will Britton had headed the seasiders into the lead and they looked safe going into the break.
But they gifted the men from the Isle of Axholme an equaliser.
Keeper Mike Emery was penalised by the referee for not distributing the ball quick enough and the home side punished them by scoring from the resultant indirect free kick through James Bingham. So Town had to regroup and start again.
Their good fortune had obviously lifted the home side, who started the second half the brighter, without really threatening the Skegness goal.
Against a more physical outfit, the Lilywhites would have found it easier to have defended a single goal lead than having to go in search of another winner.
But around 15 minutes into the second half their prospects improved as the heavy surface started to take its toll on Epworth.
Gaps started to appear and Skegness opportunities presented themselves.
Jordan Smith dragged a shot wide when well placed and Luke Rayner-Mistry tormented the Epworth defence down the left hand side, cutting through the backline at will.
Courtney Warren’s persistence created an opening for himself, but he was thwarted by a sharp save by home keeper Chris Stanley.
Ben Davison headed inches over and Wade Hurst was expected to do better when presented with a chance by Rayner-Mistry from six yards out.
At the other end a last ditch tackle from Miles Chamberlain smothered an opportunity for Mathew Muldoon to steal the game late on.
And so the tie moved into extra time and it appeared Epworth’s best chance was to hold out for penalties.
They looked like a spent force as the seasiders dominated possession.
But in repelling a rare raid on their goal Davison’s half clearance fell to David Mole, who whipped a cross into the danger area, where Richard Haynes triggered delirious celebrations with a volley that crept in off the far post.
Skegness had 22 minutes to rescue the tie and they took just four minutes of that to get back on level terms.
McCauley Parker’s free kick from the right found its way through to Warren, who hooked the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Continued on Page 87