FOOTBALL: Horncastle Reserves without a game as year comes to a close

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Lincoln Saturday League

Horncastle Town Reserves were without a game as the year ended with just three games played, but it saw a piece of cup history created for this league.

This was in the Village Trophy as Heckington Millers and Ruskington Rovers (both invited guests into the competition) battled it out for a place in the final. Heckington Millers were appearing in the semi-final for the first time although a Heckington side, Heckington United, had appeared in 18 semi-finals over the years, winning nine and going on to lift the trophy on five occasions.

As for Ruskington Rovers, they had only ever appeared in one previous semi- final, losing to Metheringham 3-0 in 2003. In this weekend’s match, which was described as a typical cup tie, the game was decided by the odd goal in seven with Ruskington making it to their first ever final.

In the final, they will meet either The Railway Inn or Cherry Willingham, two more sides that have never reached the final, and only Cherry have appeared in the semi-finals before, in 2012 (losing 3-2 to Metheringham) and 2013 (losing 3-0 to Fulbeck).

In league action, there was the opportunity for some movement at the head of the table. Cherry Willingham went into the day at the top but Birchwood United, who hosted neighbours Ruston Sports, had the chance to lead the table should they win.

The two sides had met in their last game in the Challenge Cup at Rustons with Birchwood romping to a 6-1 win. Birchwood were unbeaten in the league while Rustons had not won away from home since early October.

This game proved to be a little tighter than the previous meeting but Birchwood ran out 3-1 winner with Jay Tinkler (his sixth of the season), Ash Woodhall (his fourth) and Mark Walker (his first) netting for them. Liam Bradley (his third) scored for Rustons.

In the second game, Fulbeck United visited Retford Town, hoping to maintain their unbeaten league record. To date they had conceded just one goal in four league games played and that goal was in the first match of the season which they had won 7-1.

Retford, on the other hand, had won for the first occasion in six games in their last match, but they had lost only once at home. Keeping their seventh clean sheet in 11 games, Fulbeck ran out 2-0 victors. Callum Clay (his fifth goal of the season) and Ollie Tasker (his first) scored the goals. For Retford, it was the third occasion in four games they had failed to find the net.

Despite victory, Fulbeck remain fourth in the table but have played one game less than the three sides above them and would have been second, one point behind Birchwood, with a game in hand, had they not been deducted three points earlier in the campaign.

Although there are no Lincoln League sides left in the Lincs Junior Cup, the quarter-final draw proved interesting, with the competition now a battle between three Lincs League sides, four Scunthorpe League sides and one Peterborough League team.

Due to the draw, there will be at least one side from both the Lincs League and Scunthorpe League in the semi-finals. Holders Hykeham Town (in mid-table) visit fellow Lincs League side Wyberton (also previous winners) who presently sit second in the table and have already won at Hykeham in a league meeting.

The all-Scunthorpe League tie sees Limestone Rangers and College Wanderers (also previous winners) meet. These two clubs are yet to meet in league action and both sit in mid-table positions.

The lowest placed side left in the competition is Westwoodside Rangers (Scunthorpe League), based near Doncaster. They are bottom of Division Two but have played only two league games. Their opponents, Sutton Bridge Athletic, who are third in the second tier of the Peterborough Leagues, have a 90-mile journey for this meeting.

Finally, another Scunthorpe League One side are third placed Epworth Town, who host Lincs League’s third placed club, Skegness Town, having already seen off their neighbours, Skegness United, in the previous round.