Horncastle Town kicked off their Lincs League Supplementary Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over Brigg Town Reserves at The Wong.
A brace of goals from last season’s leading scorer Michael Harness was enough to secure victory. However, Town should have made things more comfortable for themselves after leading 2-0 at the break but a disappointing second half will be a concern to manager Paul Johnson.
With regulars Andrew Shinn, Steve Brown and Mickey Stones unavailable, the manager had to reshuffle his back four with Steve Lovett switching to left back, Nathan Rawdon occupying the right back position and the versatile Scott Lowman dropping in at centre half alongside skipper Chris Johnson.
There was also a start for debutant Robbie Fixter who played alongside Harness up front but it was the visitors who made the brighter start and a decent long range effort went just over the bar in the first minute.
Town started to see more of the ball with Carl Smith and Ben Fidling prominent in wide areas. On 10 minutes a low cross from Harness just eluded Fixter and moments later Michael saw his clever chip headed off the line after good work from Fixter and Smith. Town were now in the ascendancy and midway through the half they took the lead when Harness cleverly turned in a fine cross from Smith.
Smith and Rawdon were combining well down the right as Town continued to press and when Fixter got to the byline his cross fell to Fidling who saw his goalbound effort blocked. Robbie then saw his shot well saved after he broke clear.
But 10 minutes before the break Town added a deserved second when Harness controlled a Rawdon cross superbly before rolling the ball beyond the keeper.
In fairness to the away side, they had contributed a lot in the first half and when they broke down the right, a low shot struck the foot of the post although keeper Lewis Burchnall looked to have it covered. A two goal cushion was about right at half-time given the chances Town had created and they would have hoped to have built on that in the second period.
However, the game was very scrappy for the first 15 minutes with several stoppages not helping but Town looked comfortable with Ollie Johnson and Richard Jackson seeing a lot of the ball in midfield.
Tom Hodson came on for his debut in place of Fixter as Town looked to push on and a Jackson cross was flicked on by Harness but the Brigg keeper reacted superbly to tip the ball beyond the far post.
At the other end Town were indebted to keeper Burchnall who saved well with his legs after hesitant defending at the near post. Brigg were playing with confidence and their willingness to run in behind Town’s back four was causing problems.
Town should have secured victory when an unmarked Harness side footed the ball over the bar after Carl Smith returned the ball into the box.
Having been given a reprieve Brigg reduced the arrears midway through the half when Town’s fragility at set pieces was again exposed. A corner was headed away well by Rawdon but when the ball was returned into the box an unmarked Brigg player headed past Burchnall at the far post.
Callum Low then replaced the tiring Rawdon as Town looked to consolidate their position but when a Brigg striker ran clear of a static defence an equaliser seemed a certainty, but he fired just wide of the far post.
Town looked to get a measure of control by keeping the ball better and Ollie Johnson saw a long range effort tipped away by the keeper. Richard Jackson then fired just wide from the edge of the box as Town pressed for a decisive third goal.
Jamie Lamming replaced Fidling as Town looked to see out the final 10 minutes and despite not playing with any real conviction they held on to secure a much needed win. Overall, the win was just about deserved but the visitors will consider themselves unlucky not to gain a point after a spirited second half showing.
This Saturday, Town travel to play the same opposition in a league fixture and the players will be well aware that they will need to give a much improved performance if they are to secure three points to get their league campaign underway.
Horncastle: Burchnall, Rawdon (Low), Lovett, Lowman, C. Johnson, O. Johnson, Smith, Jackson, Harness, Fixter (Hodson), Fidling (Lamming).
l Horncastle Town Reserves threw away a 2-0 lead to lose their opening game of the season 4-2 away at AFC Crown and Arrows in the Lincoln and District Saturday League.