Goalkeeping hero Hewitt saves Sleaford blushes

Lincolnshire Senior Trophy

Sleaford Town 3 Harrowby United 3 AET: Sleaford won on penalties

By Lloyd Harmston

TOWN went through this Senior Trophy tie on Tuesday night (October 2) by the skin of their teeth, being taken all the way to a penalty shoot-out by Harrowby United from the next division down.

Home keeper Andy Hewitt proved to be the hero of the hour as he saved two United spot-kicks after the visitors had missed the target with their first effort.

For their part, Town missed the opening penalty but then went through the next three with no trouble, to a place in the next round.

Hewitt had already pulled off a superb save when the score-sheet was still blank, preventing Harrowby from taking the lead. On 25 minutes Town went ahead when a low cross from Ash Murrell was neatly flicked into the net by Luke Hollingworth at the near post. Seven minutes later the lead was doubled as Ryan Oliver climbed well to nod down for Jamie Shaw to finish.

Town looked to the sailing away even if they hardly deserved such a lead at this stage. Harrowby were playing very well and with no less than six former Town players in their side along with manager Jason Harrison, they were well and truly up for the fight. They reduced the deficit on 37 minutes with a goal from one of those ex-Town men Billy Stubbs as he nodded into the net from another ex-Town player Matt Hodgkins.

Minutes into the second half the scores were deservedly level when Bobby Lee came up with a neat turn and sharp shot. Two minutes later a terrible error from Stubbs gave the ball to Hollingworth but with work still to do he finished with a superb shot across the keeper to regain Town’s lead.

Stubbs was never out of this game and it was his downward header that gave Scott Webb a fine volley to level the scores.

So to the penalties with Town’s Richard Jackson having the first kick saved by visiting keeper Jack Drury, only for United’s Liam Harper to miss the target. From here on Town scored through Hollingworth, Nathan Rawdon and substitute Tony Edwards while keeper Hewitt foiled further kicks.

Team: (4-4-2)

Hewitt; Weston, Braithwaite, Fenton, Llewellyn; Murrell, Popple, Jackson, Hollingworth; Oliver, Shaw. Subs: Rawdon, Edwards, Lovett, Sedlan.

Sleaford Town FC Comment

There was much relief around Eslaforde Park after the Tuesday evening cup-tie penalty shoot-out against Division One side Harrowby United. Whether or not the visitors deserved to suffer such a fate depends of course, on which colours you were sporting. Trying to look at things with a neutral eye (which is never easy) perhaps I would have to say that the visitors were a shade unfortunate. Then on Saturday Town picked up a second league win at Cogenhoe. Coincidentally, it was this very same week last season that the club collected a second league victory.

Manager Glen Maddison said about the cup win over Harrowby: “Overall I was pleased with the win as we certainly did not wish to lose against them. They were a decent side with some good players going forward, if a shade niggly at times. They should do well this season and we wish them well.

“It was pleasing that we managed to get some balls into the box and caused some damage. Our keeper Andy Hewitt did well with his penalty saves, and I believe he saved five from eight last season.”

Three points then materialised at Cogenhoe on Saturday, with Maddison saying it was a great win. “We played very well in the first half and maybe could have scored a couple more. I was disappointed that we conceded two after the break and made life a little more difficult.

“Jamie (Shaw) rolled back the years, looking fit and raring to go. He was involved in all three goals and might have added to his one strike. Ash Murrell was daft to get his late red card having already been booked.

“I am a bit concerned about Joe Braithwaite as he came off with a bad knock. If necessary, Kris Jones will cover at centre-back for the Blackstones trip on Wednesday, even though he is now in charge of the reserves. Good to see them pick up a big win on Saturday.”

l Following the visit to Blackstones tonight (Wednesday) Town go to Sutton Town in the FA Vase on Saturday.