Sleaford Town exit the FA Cup but league start gives cause for optimism

There was disappointment for Sleaford Town on Saturday as they exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle.

Sleaford's Joe Smith scores during the win at Skegness. Photo: Steve W Davies Photography.
Sleaford's Joe Smith scores during the win at Skegness. Photo: Steve W Davies Photography.

Their 1-0 loss at Handsworth in the extra preliminary round was the first defeat for Tom Ward’s men this season, having won their opening two league encounters.

The only goal on Saturday came eight minutes from time after a defensive mix-up in what was overall a very even game.

The result put a slight dampener on a campaign so far that saw Eastwood beaten on the opening day and then local rivals Skegness overcome 3-2 on the road last Wednesday night.

At Skegness, Conor Marshall had put the hosts in front on eight minutes after Sleaford hadn’t dealt with a free-kick, but despite the Greens improving as the half went on they were behind at the break.

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Sleaford were then much improved in the second-half and just a minute in got level when Ward was fouled in the penalty area and Ryan Rushen netted the resulting spot kick.

The Greens then led when Rushen laid the ball off to Joe Smith whose curler went in off the post.

However, Skegness soon got back on level terms from close range through Jamie Potts on 71 minutes.

Both sides missed chances as they fought all out for the winner, but it came in the dying minutes from Mitch Griffiths who scored a terrific goal from distance that left the goalkeeper with no chance – Sleaford keeper Ryan Flitton still having to be alert to make a great double save before the game was up to ensure the three points.

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Sleaford now continue their league campaign with games against two other opponents who are so far unbeaten.

They host Sherwood Colliery at the Longwater Stadium at Eslaforde Park on Saturday, the Nottinghamshire side having taken NPL Division One East side Long Eaton United to a replay in the FA Cup at the weekend, the re-match set to take place on Tuesday night (9th).

Sleaford will then make the short trip to face Newark & Sherwood United on Tuesday, August 16 with a 7.45pm kick-off.