Sills and Betteridge Lincolnshire League
Skegness United 3 Ruston Sports 2
Skegness United were looking to improve on their 1–1 draw at Rustons three weeks previously - and they did just that with a 3-2 victory.
Returning to the side where skipper Kurt Crossley, John Courtney and, for his first match of the season, Kyle McGuigan.
Elliott Clark replaced the unavailable Chris Snaith in goal.
United made a positive start with plenty of possession. However, they struggled to get their passing game going on a poor surface and the Rustons defence were proving very hard to break down.
The first real chance did not arrive until 25 minutes when, from a Rustons corner, Ward rose above the United defence and headed against the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
A few minutes later United took the lead when a cross field pass from McGuigan was flicked on by Courtney to Kurt Crossley, who cleverly ran in behind the visitors defence.
He went on to loft the ball brilliantly over keeper Carl Stubbs as he came off his line.
Rustons drew level on 34 minutes when, after Clark made a smart save, the ball was only half cleared and, as the cross came back into the area, two Rustons players appeared to be in an offside position on the six-yard line and Stephen John headed home despite the United players protests.
The second half started with Ruston’s on the attack and a low shot from the right was turned away for a corner by Clark, who was having his best game in a United shirt.
On 60 minutes, United fortuitously took the lead for the second time when Jamie Firth under pressure from Luke Rayner-Mistry placed his back pass wide of goalkeeper Stubbs and the ball rolled into the corner of the net.
Things then got even worse for the visitors as Andy McDowall received a second yellow card followed by a red which made their chances of getting back into the game even more unlikely.
Despite having 10 men, the Rustons team seemed to be galvanised by the losing a player and they got back on level terms in the 74th minute.
From another corner Charlie Ward headed home at the far post with no one on the line to cover the header.
United responded and on 80 minutes Crossley found space and played in Rayner-Mistry on the left, who danced past three defenders before unleashing a powerful drive that crashed against the upright and back into the grateful arms of keeper Stubbs.
With only three minutes left on the clock, United took the lead for the third time which turned out to be the winner.
Michael Forman sent Crossley away who made space to play in John Courtney who knocked the ball home from close range to the delight of the United crowd.
At the final whistle United had taken all three points in a hard-fought match.
The victory should give the United players plenty of confidence going into the Skegness derby on Saturday.
Manager Mark Hallam said: “We were far from our best today but the boys dug deep to get the win in what was a poor game as a spectacle.
“On a poor surface that suited them more than us, we just could not get our passing game going and surrendered possession far too cheaply at times but the three points were all that mattered.
“We know we go into next week’s game as underdogs given the budget at their disposal but we have a great record at Burgh Road and we will go there with plenty of belief after today’s victory.”
Team: E Clark, Harris, Muirhead (Durdey), Reeson, McGuigan, Tittcomb, Cunliffe (Forman), S Chamberlain (J Clarke), Rayner-Mistry, Courtney, Crossley.
Man of Match: Kyle McGuigan.