Skegness Town climbed back to the top of the Sills and Betteridge Lincolnshire League with a narrow win over Sleaford’s second string at Eslaforde Park, writes Nigel West.
Had they taken their chances during a first half boosted by the strong wintry wind on their backs the win could have been sealed before the interval, but the home side rode their luck and were always in with a chance of snatching a late point.
Will Britton’s 10th minute volley was all that separated the two sides at the break, but Oliver Sidney’s early Christmas present of an own goal on the hour provided a two-goal cushion.
And, despite Daniel McNamara’s 75th minute penalty, the Lilywhites hung on to claim the three points.
This, coupled with Horncastle’s victory over Town’s rivals Skegness United, saw the champions reclaim the top spot.
Manager Nick Chapman introduced Liam Parker to the starting line-up at the expense of Jamie Epton. Otherwise the seasiders were unchanged.
They started brightly with the wind on their backs and 10 minutes in they opened the scoring.
Parker’s long throw was headed on and Britton controlled the ball with one touch and then smashed it past Garry Doran.
Midway through the half Liam Papworth should have doubled the lead. He did the hard bit, jinking his way into the box and past a grounded Doran, but with the goal at his mercy he struck his shot at the perfect place for Adam Smith to clear off the line.
Michael Hardy was the next to find space in the Sleaford penalty area, but he fired his shot straight at Doran; Britton failed to get a clean contact on another chance.
So going into the second half Sleaford were still in the game and they must have fancied their chances with the wind to their advantage.
But their hopes suffered a blow in the 61st minute when a corner was whipped into the danger area from the right by McCauley Parker. Sidney, whose partnership with Smith had thwarted the champions for an hour, dived forward, only for the ball to squirt off his head and into the roof of the net.
The seasiders deserved the two-goal advantage on the balance of play, but they allowed the home side back into the game with 15 minutes left when goalkeeper Andrew Hewitt was penalised for a rash challenge on Nathan Holland as the striker chased a loose ball across the penalty box.
Daniel McNamara fired the spot kick high into the Skegness net, but it failed to spark a home side revival.
Liam Parker and Miles Chamberlain continued to dominate in defence for the visitors and those around them rose to the challenge.
At the other end Ben Davison held the ball up well and the work rate of colleagues frustrated the home side as they struggled to put the champions under pressure.
Sleaford Town Reserves: Garry Doran, Jack Padley, Carl Wilson, Daniel McNamara, Adam Smith, Oliver Sidney, Casey Kemp, Harry Ginniff, Jonathan Twentyman, Nathan Holland, Lee Llewellyn, Gavin Gordon, Isaac Charlton, Harrison Allen.
Skegness Town: Andrew Hewitt, Ashley Murrell, Andy Parish, Michael Hardy, Liam Parker, Miles Chamberlain, Liam Papworth, Ben Davison, Will Britton, Keiron Elliott, McCauley Parker, Daniel Reid, Ben Drysdale, Jamie Epton, Matt Veall.