Sleaford Town give Paul Ward fitting send-off

Paul Ward has served Town as centre-half, skipper and manager
Paul Ward has served Town as centre-half, skipper and manager

Saturday marked the end of an era as Paul Ward’s spell as manager culminated with a victory at Eslaforde Park.

Ward was appointed Town manager in May 2015 and immediately guided the club to their highest-ever position in league football last season with a seventh-placed finish in the United Counties League Premier.

New Sleaford Town manager Paul Walden EMN-170105-162823002

New Sleaford Town manager Paul Walden EMN-170105-162823002

He also took the club further in the FA Vase than anyone else had achieved.

But the former Town centre-half and skipper announced in March that he would step down at the end of the campaign, and was frustrated by struggles to match last season’s highs.

Former Skegness Town, Grimsby Borough, and Louth Town manager Paul Walden now takes charge of the team.

Walden guided Louth to successive promotions up to Northern Counties East League Division One in one of three spells with the club.

He spent four months of last season managing the Grimsby side in Northern Counties East League Division One before leaving in February.

But the Town players gave Ward a fitting send-off on Saturday with a 4-2 win against Oadby Town.

Ryan Rushen gave the hosts a perfect start when he slotted home early on, and Tom Siddons doubled the lead, heading in from David Hone’s flick-on from a corner.

And Town were cruising at 3-0 up at half-time when Rushen latched on to a through ball and finished well to add his second.

Oadby reduced the arrears after the break, but Jake Fenton, a second-half replacement for Rushen restored the three-goal cushion when he poked home his first senior goal.

The visitors grabbed a second, but it was pure consolation as Town completed the double for their fourth win in their last five league games to seal a 14th-placed finish.

Town: McGann, Worthington (Asplin), Anderson, Hone, Ward, Braithwaite, Siddons, Forwood, Oliver, Elliott, Rushen (Fenton). Sub not used: Sedlan.