Sleaford Town grab first away UCL win of the season at Wellingborough

Sleaford Town captain Michael Hayden struck from distance to seal a valuable away win EMN-180213-111618002
Sleaford Town captain Michael Hayden struck from distance to seal a valuable away win EMN-180213-111618002

Sleaford Town moved further clear of the United Counties League trapdoor with their first league win on their travels this season.

Jamie Shaw’s side had lost 14 of their 15 away league trips prior to Saturday’s trip to Wellingborough, but broke their duck in style with a 4-2 victory at fellow strugglers Whitworth.

Town have now won three and, crucially, lost just two of their last seven league matches as they approach the season run-in.

The three points also lifted them above St Andrew’s into 19th place - their highest position of the season as Sleaford hit form at just the right time.

It also extended the gap above the relegation places to six points with eight games left.

They are eight points above bottom side Oadby who have five games in hand, and whom Town visit on Saturday looking to complete the double.

Shaw said: “It was a very enjoyable Saturday and nice to be heading in the right direction as we reach the business end of the season.

“We have a huge game coming up at the weekend as we visit Oadby, looking to build further on the gap between us and the bottom two.”

The manager was forced into changing the side which had held high-flying Deeping Rangers seven days earlier, but they were bolstered by the return of forward George Couzens on a second loan spell from Spalding United.

And Couzens made an almost instant impact, latching on to a good through ball from Ben Machin to smash home the opening goal from the edge of the box after just seven minutes as Town took a deserved lead.

But the lead proved short-lived as Whitworth punished Sleaford for switching off, equalising after a good delivery from the right.

The visitors again started the brighter after half-time and were back in front within four minutes of the restart when recent signing Luke Hollingworth scored for the second game running.

Dan Worthington gave Town some breathing space as he slid in the third - and his first of the season - after 53 minutes.

Skipper Michael Hayden then almost wrapped things up, but was foiled by a great save as the home keeper tipped his drive onto the inside of the post.

There looked to be anxious finale in the offing when the hosts made it 3-2 with a quarter-of-an-hour still to play.

But Hayden soon calmed any nerves when he got his goal, pouncing on a loose clearance from the keeper to net from distance.

While delighted with the result, Shaw was also pleased with the impact of recent additions and the overall strength of the squad.

“We had a number of changes to make, but due to the added strength in depth we’ve built up we were able to do this without too much disruption,” he explained.

“For most of the first half we felt we were on top without really making the most of our dominance.

“But we came out strongly again for the second half and it was really pleasing to see both wing-backs on the scoresheet as we pressed forward.”