Horncastle Town Reserves 1-0 Birchwood United
Town’s Reserves threw the formbook out of the window as a late goal from Luke Blondell downed Lincoln and District League leaders Birchwood United at The Wong on Saturday.
Town had only won one of their last six matches while Birchwood had won their last seven - scoring an impressive 29 goals - to march to the top of the table.
While Blondel’s goal earned three very welcome points, ‘keeper Jason Stamford was the real hero for Town with two sizzling saves in the dying stages to deny Birchwood.
Town made two changes from the previous match. Andrew Bullivant came in for Carl Smith, who was recalled to first team duty, and Ben Fidling replaced Ryan Beaumont, who was absent through injury.
They started with a 5-4-1 formation with Daniel Garnett playing the sweeper role.
It was Birchwood who had the first opportunity with a cleverly worked quick free kick which caught Hornacastle out. A cross was flicked on and the header went inches over the bar.
It was a wake up call for Town who knew they would have to be at their best to get anything out of the game.
Town did dominate the majority of the half with Bullivant and Jamie Lamming controlling the central midfield area.
Both teams had chances to break the deadlock but the best chance came to Fidling from a Lamming cross, but he mis-kicked from 12-yards out.
The opening stages of the second half were evenly fought. Town were very disciplined and let Birchwood play football in their own half, pulling men behind the ball.
That meant Town were hitting Birchwood on the break and the first chance of the half came for the home side.
Fidling got into the penalty area and his shot went inches wide with Blondel sliding in at the far post.
Birchwood had a spell of pressure and Town had a let off when a shot struck the inside of the post and rolled along the line.
Town, though, took the lead after 75 minutes. They broke down a Birchwood attack and Fidling ran at the defence on the counter before finding Blondel, who coolly finished low into the bottom left corner for his 12th goal of the season.
Town knew they had to hold firm with Birchwood pushing for the equaliser and Stamford came to their rescue.
Birchwood’s leading scorer Danny Hicks hit a shot which was going in the top corner, only for Stamford to push it out for a corner.
Minutes later, Stamford made another superb save while a last ditch goal line clearance from captain, Dave Marshall in the closing stages also proved decisive as Town celebrated a hard earned win.
*Town will be hoping to build on the success when they travel to Monson FC on Saturday (2pm).
Town: Stamford, Low, S.Maplethorpe, Garnett, D.Maplethorpe, Marshall, Bodily, Lamming, Bullivant, Fidling, Blondel. Unused subs: J.Cheetham, W.Wood, L.Wilson.