Skegness Town 2, Barnetby United 1

Skegness Town came back from behind to secure a place in the County Cup semis.

The seasiders trailed at half time to a Ben Popple goal, but bounced back with two goals after the break to set up a semi-final with Moulton Harrox, which will be played at Burgh Road on February 2.

The winners of that tie will meet either Gainsborough Town or the Lilywhites’ next league opponents, Ruston Sports, in the final showpiece.

Although sticky underfoot and chilly for those watching, conditions were otherwise ideal for Saturday’s visit of Barnetby.

The Scunthorpe Leaguers brought with them a number of good humoured supporters, but they had little to cheer about as the home side dominated the early stages.

However, it soon became obvious that they were an organised outfit and would prove difficult to penetrate. Indeed, their tall defenders were rarely stretched during the first half, dealing easily with the high balls selected by the home side.

For 15 minutes Chris Best in the visiting goal was a spectator, with a solitary and wayward Ben Davison strike all the seasiders could muster.

But John Courtney stung Best’s fingers after dancing past two defenders down the Skegness right and Davison was inches too high with a header after stealing in behind the United defence.

Having been frustrated for 43 minutes, Skegness had a narrow escape when a cross from the right eluded everyone and fell invitingly for Cameron Hill, who somehow fluffed his lines, missing his header from a yard out.

Sadly for Town they didn’t heed the warning and when an identical chance fell to Popple in the first minute of stoppage time he made no mistake.

Attacking the Kop end after the break, Skegness gradually got back on top, with their superior fitness making the difference.

They equalised in the 55th minute when skipper Davison headed home Michael Hardy’s cross from the right, after which the whole nature of the game changed.

Barnetby, who had beaten Metheringham, Old Leake and Woodhall Spa in previous rounds, had their backs against the wall and Popple was cautioned for dissent as they conceded a number of free kicks on the edge of the area.

United skipper Rick Carter followed him into referee Nick Sleaford’s book for a heavy and unlawful challenge on Danny Reid.

The pressure intensified and George Merrick blocked a goal-bound effort from Papworth. Andy Parish attacked down the left and crossed to the back stick where Davison slid in, only to see Best kick his effort off the line.

Skegness continued to press, hoping to avoid the need for extra time. But they breathed a sigh of relief when Will Hartley headed Andy Dawson’s cross well wide of the target.

The winner came with nine minutes left when Reid battled with Best on the edge of the penalty area. The ball squirmed out to Papworth, who kept his cool to chip the grounded keeper from 25 yards.

Skegness Town: Liam Gibson, Jake Akers, Andy Parish, Michael Hardy, Joby Gowshall, Liam Parker, Andy Reeson, John Courtney, Liam Papworth, Ben Davison, Daniel Reid, James Bland, Tracey Chappelow, James Critchlow.

Barnetby United: Chris Best, Adam Gowing, Rick Carter, Steve Jordan, George Merrick, Will Hartley, Ben Popple, Marcus Davies, Cameron Hill, Dan Greaves, Andy Dawson, Joe Scott, Tom Brock, David Jenkinson.

On Saturday Skegness return to league action when they travel to Lincoln to take on Ruston Sports.

Skegness Town Reserves are at home to Park United in the Willoughby Cup (kick-off 1.30pm).