Sills and Betteridge
Market Rasen Town 1
Skegness Town 1
On paper a trip to lowly Market Rasen Town, a side they had hit for six on the opening day of the season, appeared little more than a formality for champions Skegness Town.
But the seasiders failed to perform, squandering a one-goal lead at Rase Park, to dent their hopes of retaining their Sills and Betteridge League crown.
The seasiders had been due to play at Ruston Sports in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, but the Lincoln-based side had a number of players involved in the county under 18 squad’s trip to Westmoreland.
League rules permit them to postpone their fixture in such circumstances and so the league game at Rasen was hurriedly arranged to keep the Lilywhites active.
It was an opportunity for the seasiders to climb back to the top of the table.
This they did, but in unconvincing fashion.
They now sit at the summit with a one point advantage over Horncastle Town, who have a game in hand.
Town boss Nick Chapman was obviously disappointed with the result, but remained philosophical.
“They got everyone behind the ball and just frustrated us,” he said.
“The lads are disappointed, but there are still more twists and turns I am sure, and plenty of points to play for. We’ll put this setback behind us and go again.”
In truth, it was a poor performance by the champions, who squandered an early lead and then failed to raise the tempo sufficiently to regain the initiative.
They struggled to threaten the Rasen goal for the first quarter of the game. A McCauley Parker shot that missed the target by two yards and a good near post block by keeper William Bradford was the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
But midway through the first half they edged in front when Liam Papworth met McCauley Parker’s corner and glanced it past Bradford.
Papworth’s strike partner Michael Hardy almost doubled the lead when he rounded Bradford, but Kyle Paul got back to clear off the line.
Rasen had to wait until the 28th minute for their first effort on goal, but visiting keeper Rick Lovelace got down to smother Jake Wade’s shot from 15 yards.
The home side continued to press, looking for an equaliser, while at the other end frustrating Hardy and Papworth with a series of offside decisions.
During this purple patch veteran striker Ian Williams fired home the all-important leveller just before the break.
The Lilywhites huffed and puffed for the whole of the second half, but failed to raise their game enough to earn themselves maximum points from the game.
Market Rasen Town - William Bradford, Aaron Ford, Jake Wade, James Brothwell, Ian Williams, Kyle Paul, Luke Richards, Joe Osbourne, Andrew Belt, Guy Smith, Trevor Taylor, Ian Smith, George Burke, Charle Scales, Michael Kelly, John Taylor.
Skegness Town - Rick Lovelace, Ashley Murrell, Jamie Epton, Keiron Elliott, Miles Chamberlain, Liam Parker, Andy Parish, Ben Davison, Liam Papworth, Michael Hardy, McCauley Parker, Will Britton, Daniel Reid, Matt Veall.
On Saturday Skegness Town return to Burgh Road for a Supplementary Cup quarter-final contest against Sleaford Town Reserves (KO 2.30pm).