Reserves’ brief cup run ends in heartache

Boston League

Willoughby Cup

Swineshead Institute 3 Skegness Town Reserves 1

Skegness Town Reserves produced their best performance of the season and threatened to cause the upset of the round by taking a first half lead.

But a penalty equaliser from league leaders Swineshead with 15 minutes to go and two late strikes by the home side broke Skegness hearts.

Town played with the strong wind on their backs in the first period and threw everything at the Institute for the first 20 minutes with full backs Ben Etches and Michael Parnham pushing forward at every opportunity.

The away team created the best chances during that period, with man of the match striker James Bland particularly prominent, as he was all afternoon, feeding off Adi Verhuel and Gordon Drake.

It was the young striker who had the first chance, just lifting his lob over the bar, with the keeper stranded.

Swineshead were always dangerous on the break and their centre forward squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead.

At the other end Adi Verhuel set up Drake, but the striker took too long to get his shot off, giving the centre half time to make a tackle.

Town opened the scoring in the 25th minute when the lively Bland scored from 12 yards.

Despite creating a number of further chances, Skegness could not add to their lead before the break.

With the strong wind in their faces for the second period, the Lilywhites played the greater football with Bland a major threat with his pace and vision.

Michael Marinov replaced the injured Parnham and they reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.

The back four of Epton, Errington, Howland and Etches all stood firm, dealing with the direct approach from the home side, as well as a number of free kicks and corners.

On 70 minutes Drake squandered a gilt-edged chance to double the visitors’ lead, putting his shot wide from eight yards with the keeper flat footed.

The home side drew level from the penalty spot in the 75th minute. This gave Swineshead a lift, but Town were still on top of things.

Then, with extra time beckoning, disaster struck for the seasiders. Centre half Damian Howland drilled a back pass chest high to his keeper Scott Daley in the 88th minute. The keeper could not deal with it and the ball trickled into the bottom corner.

Deep into stoppage time, Swineshead secured the victory as Town pushed forward for an equaliser.

Skegness Town Reserves - Scott Daley, Ben Etches, Michael Parnham, Joe Errington, Jamie Epton, John Jeffery, Andy Reeson, Damian Howland, James Bland, Gordon Drake, Adi Verheul, Mason Hazard, Michael Marinov, Shaun Connelly.

Assistant Manager John Jeffery said after the game: “All the lads produced a fantastic performance today, but it is not a surprise to everybody in the camp, they are an amazing group to be around. We take this into our league fixtures now.”