FOOTBALL: Struggling Horncastle Town toppled after nightmare first half

Chris Johnson's return from suspension could not save Horncastle Town from defeat.
Chris Johnson's return from suspension could not save Horncastle Town from defeat.

Hykeham Town 3 Horncastle Town 1

Horncastle Town came crashing back to earth with a bump after they paid the price for a nightmare first half at Sills and Betteridge Premier Division rivals Hykeham on Saturday.

Town went into the fixture full of confidence after a morale-boosting win at Sleaford in their previous game - their first in the league since September.

However, they leaked three goals in that disastrous first half and despite a brave comeback, had left themselves with too much to do.

Skipper Chris Johnson returned to Town’s ranks after suspension, but Scott Lowman, Andrew Shinn and Danny Bent were all unavailable.

Daniel Bodily and Josh Cheetham made stepped up from the reserves to make-up the bench.

Town started slowly and were struggling to deal with the direct approach of the home team.

Even so, they should have taken the lead when a whipped ball in from Olly Johnson found Chris Johnson, but he didn’t make good enough contact with a first time volley.

After 15 minutes, the hosts went one nil up after a close range shot could only be parried over the line by Nathan Rawdon.

Town then had a great chance to draw level after the referee decided a Hykeham defender had handled the ball in the area, but Olly Johnson saw his resulting penalty saved.

Hykeham made the most of the let off. One of their midfielders was left totally unmarked to head home a cross and right on the half time the unfortunate Dave Marshallconceded an own goal.

Town knew they had to play a lot better in the second half to avoid being on the end of a drubbing.

They almost pulled a goal back when a cross from Michael Harness found Tony Edwards at the back post, but his acrobatic effort rebounded off the post and away.

Town did score on the hour mark when Gareth Melia made space in the box and found the bottom corner with a left foot strike.

Edwards then went through one on one with the ‘keeper but didn’t get enough loft on his chip which ended up in safe hands.

Bodily and Cheetham came on for the last 20 minutes to replace Harness and Rawdon. Town kept pushing hard towards the end of the game and in the last minute, Chris Johnson pulled the ball back to Steve Lovett, but he could not finish.

Town are on their travels again on Saturday when they visit fellow strugglers Heckington United.