Sleaford Town climb off the bottom after comeback victory

Ewan Armstrong teed up the winner for Liam Tunstall. Picture: David Dawson EMN-201002-155743002
Ewan Armstrong teed up the winner for Liam Tunstall. Picture: David Dawson EMN-201002-155743002

Sleaford Town fought back to win the United Counties League Premier basement battle and climb off the bottom for the first time this season.

Home supporters feared the worst when second-bottom Pinchbeck took a fifth-minute lead on Saturday from the penalty spot.

But second-half goals from Nick Bates and Liam Tunstall secured a vital 2-1 win, their second of the season, helping Town leapfrog their opponents.

“It was a hugely important win and it’s great to be off the bottom,” said manager Jamie Shaw.

“But there are still loads of points up for grabs so we have to knuckle down and keep working hard.”

The hosts began badly and were behind after just five minutes when Max Gee scored from the spot after what Shaw felt was a soft spot-kick.

“I felt their striker jumped up in the air without contact,” he added.

“But we had put ourselves in a position where the referee had a decision to make and he awarded the penalty.”

Despite the poor start, Sleaford reacted well began to get a foothold in a game which became a typical derby with tackles flying in and a few off-the-ball niggles.

The hosts upped the ante in territory and saw a couple of good half-chances flash wide, but the Pinchbeck keeper did not have a save to make before half-time.

“We spoke at half-time of the need to not only match their intensity, but also to bring a level of intelligence to our play,” Shaw explained.

“Our midfield got on top, our back four became more commanding, and our front two started to link play and hold the ball up with greater authority.”

Bates claimed his first goal for the club, scrambling in after his initial shot was parried, and Town’s confidence lifted.

The hosts took the game to opponents who had led two of their previous three games at half-time, only to lose them all.

Luke Hollingworth, brought on to add pace down the left wing sent in a quality cross for Ewan Armstrong who headed just wide.

But Sleaford were soon in front.

It was Armstrong this time who produced a superb cross which was met with an emphatic header from Tunstall to cue big celebrations.

Despite their narrow advantage, the home side managed the rest of the game well, and were helped when Pinchbeck were reduced to 10 men for a tackle on the halfway line.

Having failed to pick up a point before Christmas now have eight from as many games, but still face a nine-point gap to the next team in their sights, Desborough.

On Saturday, Town head to Lutterworth Town who sit 15th after a run of one league win in eight. Kick-off is 3pm.